With Moody’s upgrade for Illinois finances, Republicans say structural problems persist | Illinois

(The Center Square) — Now that Gov. JB Pritzker has signed what he called a balanced budget, Republicans say it’s a temporary fix.

Pritzker said the state budget is making “real improvements in the lives of working families and building a stronger fiscal future.” The governor announced Thursday that Moody’s Investor Service had granted Illinois a credit enhancement.

“It’s less than a year after we received our first two credit rating upgrades in decades,” Pritzker said. “Fiscal responsibility pays off.”

Illinois is still among the lowest-rated states in the nation due to large unfunded liabilities, including unfunded pension liabilities estimated at $140 billion.

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said Thursday’s upgrade shows Illinois is “on the path to long-term fiscal security.”

“Moody’s credit rating upgrade is further confirmation that Democrats are getting Illinois’ finances back on track through strong and responsible leadership,” Welch said in a statement. “We shot [former Illinois Governor] Bruce Rauner’s $17 billion debt has gone into surplus, and now we’re using that financial stability to make historic investments in social services and public safety, and put money back in the pockets of hard-working families. . It’s the fiscal responsibility that Illinois deserves.”

Minority Republicans in the Senate are skeptical.

“The governor is grabbing everything at his fingertips to try to fool the people of Illinois into telling them he is creating a fiscally responsible government while ignoring the fact that this year’s budget was only achievable because Illinois received over $16 billion in federal bailouts,” said Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods. “The truth is that Pritzker continues to put Illinois on a path to fiscal insolvency by increasing state spending and failing to address the systemic issues that are driving people out of this state.”

Earlier in the day, State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, told the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University that state finances still needed a lot of work and the budget n was not what it might seem.

“The analogy would be that we had a gaping wound in our leg that was bleeding, and I think it was bandaged well, but it’s not healing,” Barickman said.

Barickman said the 2023 budget passed by Democrats is an election year budget.

“It’s designed to grab voters’ attention, as they pay attention ahead of the November election, and then all the goodies that were there magically disappear as soon as the election is over,” Barickman said.

Pritzker also said the budget includes $500 million that will go to the state Pension Stabilization Fund. Barickman said not enough has been done to shore up Illinois’ pension mess.

“If anything, under Governor Pritzker there have been advances and new laws that actually make this problem worse and improve some benefits of the retirement system,” Barickman said.

Regarding the recent spring session of the General Assembly, Barickman said Democrats were busy trying to undo some of the political damage caused by their crime and justice reform measures, such as the SAFE Act. -T, but they did not succeed and will pay for it in the next election.

“I think voters are really in tune with the change that’s happened on crime, and there will be Democrats being punished at the polls as a result,” Barickman said.

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