Last week, Governor Pritzker gave his Fiscal Year 2023 budget address to the Illinois General Assembly and released his full budget proposal. Here’s your arts-focused summary of the 574 pages!
Headline: it’s not great news. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. The Governor’s address and budget proposal are certainly politically important, but our advocacy process now shifts to the legislature, and we need you.
First, the details of the proposed budget: The governor’s $45.4 billion includes increased funding toward some areas, such as contributions into the pension system and the state’s “Rainy Day Fund.” It maintains level state funding ($13.4 million) for the Illinois Arts Council Agency. And the budget proposal includes $1 billion in tax cuts but no dedicated COVID relief funding for our devastated creative sector.
In his address, the governor referenced continuing to provide “direct grants for thousands more small businesses supporting their recovery,” but we need details about the extent and nature of these grants and whether or not they would prioritize struggling creative businesses.
With respect to specific sectors, the governor mentioned restaurants and bars, “an industry hard hit by the pandemic,” and is proposing a one-year waiver of liquor license fees. His silence on the pain of the creative sector was conspicuous. He did not acknowledge the devastating impact that COVID is continuing to have in particular on individual artists, nonprofit arts organizations, and creative entrepreneurs and businesses.
The tone of the address overall was very positive. Governor Pritzker stated, “Wages have increased for working class families, and jobs are available for workers of nearly every skill.” He also announced that, incredibly, Illinois will end this fiscal year with a $1.7 billion surplus. He went on to propose $1 billion in tax and fee cuts for FY 2023, including:
- One-year freeze on the scheduled 2.2-cent increase in the state’s gas tax
- One-year holiday from state sales taxes on groceries
- One-time property tax rebate of 5% of taxes paid (up to $300) to Illinois homeowners with an adjusted gross income under $250,000 (or under $500,000 if married filing jointly).
On the spending side, examples of noteworthy provisions in the budget proposal include:
- Increased investment in education, including an additional $350 million toward K-12 schools through Illinois’ equity formula (Evidence-Based Funding) and a $122 million boost to the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, which assist students with financial need.
- $315 million in increased funding (from $517 million to $832 million) for violence interruption, diversion, and youth employment programs.
- Setting aside $279 million, in addition to $600 million in FY22, for the state’s depleted “Rainy Day Fund, a safeguard fund in case of unexpected crisis situations.
- Increasing the State’s contribution into the pension system by $500 million (above the required minimum).
Now to timing and next steps. Illinois’ primary election is June 28, 2022 (and includes the race for governor). That has pushed up the General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment from the usual May 31 all the way up to April 8, 2022.
A lot can happen between now and April 8. The governor’s budget proposal is just one step in the budget process, which now officially shifts attention to the legislature. The Illinois House and Senate will hold budget hearings and negotiations in the weeks and months ahead – and our advocacy will be absolutely crucial during that time. We must voice our cause, and here’s how you can take action: Join our network of Local Advocates working across the state to ensure that the arts are a priority in this year’s budget. CLICK HERE to join the Illinois Creative Future Fund campaign.