Gov. JB Pritzker gave his fiscal year 2021 Budget Address this week. While Governor Pritzker continues to make great strides to move the state of Illinois ahead, there were a few things in the budget that could raise some concerns.
In the address, Governor Pritzker outlined his main priorities for the budget:
- Early childhood programs (birth to age 5)
- K-12 education
- Higher education
- Health and social services programs
- Criminal justice reform and public safety
- Environmental and cultural resources
- Economic development and infrastructure
In addition to the priorities listed here, it is also important to point out that the Governor’s budget calls for the full funding of the required payment due to Illinois’ pension systems. This sort of commitment to our members’ futures is a very encouraging sign from this administration.
The Governor’s proposed budget refers to a $350 million increase to the state’s recently enacted Evidence Based Funding formula. However, $150 million of that increase would be directly tied to the passage of the Fair Tax constitutional amendment, which will be voted upon in the November general election. While the IEA is pleased to see any increase to the funding formula, it is imperative Illinois keeps its commitment to ALL the children of Illinois to provide the best education possible. The IEA is in full support of the Fair Tax and will work hard to see that it passes. However, holding out much needed resources until its passage is not good for the students, or schools, of Illinois.
Another provision of the budget reduces the state’s required commitment to the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP/TRAIL) by $54 million. The IEA has always and will continue to oppose any reduction to the funding of TRIP/TRAIL that may jeopardize the programs stability. The IEA will work with Governor Pritzker and urge him to ensure Illinois keeps its’ financial commitments to retired educators.
The budget address merely signifies the beginning of the budget making process in Illinois. This budget plan represents the commitment Governor Pritzker has made to ensure every educator succeeds in his or her mission to elevate the students of Illinois. With that, this budget is not perfect, and IEA leadership and staff look forward to their continued work with the Governor and making sure our members’ voices are reflected in its final version.