Update: Gov. Budget Proposal, Taxes, Immigration

Governor delivers largest budget proposal in state history. Rep. Spain responds.  Governor JB Pritzker delivered his State of the State and Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly last week. 

Governor Pritzker introduced the largest budget proposal in state history. The Governor’s FY25 proposed budget would spend $52.7 billion, which is a $2.29 billion increase over the FY24 enacted budget – a 4.5% increase.

Deputy House Republican Leader Ryan Spain (R-73rd District) released the following statement in response:

“For a Governor who is perpetually trying to sell himself as a friend of business development and job creation, the budget he proposed today runs completely contrary to that notion. Instead of focusing on his future presidential ambitions and competing with California for the title of most progressive state in the nation, I wish we could get serious about growing Illinois’ economy.

“His proposal includes $2.29 billion in additional spending, a 4.5 percent increase, which would leave us with a $775 million deficit. How does he propose to solve his deficit problem? By raising another billion dollars in taxes on job creators and cutting tax deductions for working-class families. We’ve already spent $2.8 billion on healthcare for non-citizens and the migrant crisis, and he wants to spend another $811 million instead of admitting his sanctuary state policy has hurt our state and is taking money away from vulnerable Illinoisans who should be our first priority.

“One of the few positives I heard from the Governor today was his embrace of a plan I’ve been pushing for years to eliminate the grocery tax. Unfortunately, that is a small consolation in relation to everything else I heard today.

“Illinois has lost population for ten years in a row, and we face the second highest property tax burden in the nation. Putting more pressure on families and small businesses under his proposal is only going to drive more people away. We should be providing tax relief, not asking Illinoisans to pay more.”

Corruption trials and investigations continue. As the prosecution of Michael J. Madigan moves through pretrial, former associates and colleagues of the former Speaker of the Illinois House continue to face conviction and sentencing. The Illinois Policy Institute continues to operate its “Corruption Tracker” webpage to summarize the news stories of various public corruption cases.  These summaries include outcomes, such as the recent 30-month prison sentence imposed on former Madigan chief of staff Tim Mapes, and ongoing investigations and lawsuits.   

A current series of lawsuits and inquires center on suburban Mayor Tiffany Henyard of Dolton, Illinois. Accusations against Henyard are currently gaining nationwide notoriety, putting further focus on patterns of ongoing corruption in Illinois. The FBI has launched an investigation into controversial Dolton Mayor and Thornton Township Supervisor Tiffany Henyard.

House Republicans Respond to Latest Madigan Era Sentencing. On Monday, February 12, former Speaker Mike Madigan’s Chief of Staff was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for making false declarations before a grand jury and obstruction of justice. The sentencing for Tim Mapes came after defense attorneys pushed for a lenient sentence of community service, which was denied in federal court by Judge John Kness in the Northern District. Instead, Mapes was held accountable for his wrongful attempt to guard the corrupt ways of Mike Madigan. 

The news is the latest development in an ongoing parade of Madigan allies and associates to the federal courthouse, which illustrates the clear need for tighter ethics laws, something that House Republicans have pushed for years. Under House Minority Leader Tony McCombie’s leadership, Republicans have filed a host of ethics bills, with the latest filed just two weeks ago to mark the new legislative year.

At a previous news conference in Springfield, Leader McCombie noted ethics reform as a priority for House Republicans this year. “We sound like a broken record with our continuous calls for ethics reform, but we will not stop until it is passed: we cannot continue to rely on federal prosecution to hold elected officials to a higher standard,” said McCombie.

McCombie is sponsoring HB 4119, which will prevent defendants from utilizing campaign contributions to fund their legal defense. To date, Madigan himself has paid millions from his campaign fund to the legal firm defending him.

Deputy Minority Leader Ryan Spain has been a strong advocate for the necessary reforms needed by the legislature, to set a higher standard for elected officials and create greater trust in government.

“I applaud Judge Kness for rejecting the request to delay Tim Mapes’ sentencing,” said Deputy Leader Ryan Spain. “We all learn as children that lying is wrong. Tim Mapes shouldn’t need to be reminded of that basic child’s lesson to know that lying under oath to a grand jury is a bad idea. It’s even worse when done to cover up for unethical leaders who are supposed to serve the best interests of Illinois citizens. Let’s continue to hold corrupt politicians accountable going forward in Illinois.”

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst serves as both House Republican Floor Leader and the House Republican Spokesperson on the House Judiciary and Criminal Law Committee. Windhorst, who previously served as Massac County State’s Attorney for 14 years, says the honest cooperation of witnesses is vital to investigations, and that Mapes is reaping what he sowed by lying to the Federal government.

“No one is above the law. Period. That applies even to those who have cut deals for immunity with the Federal government’s investigation into the corrupt tenure of Michael J. Madigan,” Windhorst said. “In the case of Tim Mapes lying to the Department of Justice in the Madigan investigation, we see just how deep the allegiance between the two men was. Mr. Mapes put the interest of his former boss ahead of his own interest and certainly ahead of the interest of justice, and for that, he will face the consequences.”

In addition to Mapes, in 2023 alone federal prosecutors in Chicago have secured the following convictions:

  • Four former Commonwealth Edison employees were convicted on charges of conspiring to bribe former House Speaker Mike Madigan to guide and pass ComEd’s legislative agenda.
  • Chicago businessman James T. Weiss was convicted and sentenced to five-plus years in prison for bribing two Democratic state lawmakers, wire and mail fraud, and lying to the FBI.
  • And just days before Christmas, former Chicago Democratic Alderman Edward Burke, a member of the City Council for 54 years, was convicted of racketeering, bribery, and attempted extortion after an historic corruption trial that was over five years in the making.

Comptroller launches portal to track migrant-related spending. An estimated 40,000 migrants have arrived in greater Chicago in recent months. The State of Illinois has already spent $638 million in taxpayer funds on the migrant crisis. Spending on the migrant crisis includes health care, housing, and social services. 

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendosa has launched a new portal to track State migrant-related spending. With Governor Pritzker announcing an additional $182 million in State spending to help address Chicago’s migrant crisis, many Illinoisans are interested to see where the money is going. The Comptroller’s portal can be found here.

Illinois once again faces rising gas prices. The average price of gasohol, the highest-volume motor fuel in Illinois, has jumped 26.4 cents per gallon over the past month. Market watchers pointed towards the annual transition from ‘wintertime blends’ to the more expensive motor fuel mixtures that are required to be sold in Illinois’ two largest consolidated metro areas, Chicago and St. Louis, during the warmer months.  

The specialty summer fuels are described as effective in reducing the buildup of ozone, an air pollutant, in northern and southwestern Illinois. Both metro areas, Chicago and St. Louis, are in long-term noncompliance with federal environmental guidelines for ozone. Motor fuel is a necessity for the budgets of most Illinois families, and rising prices for this essential commodity are likely to force cutbacks in almost every other household spending category. 

Illinois and its local governments also lay significant tax supplements on the cost of motor fuel.  The ‘gas tax’ and associated sales taxes and levies pay for highway and bridge construction and maintenance, for the operations of mass transit systems, and for the operating costs of State and local government. 

$1 billion in tax increases are major sticking points in the Governor’s proposed budget.  Gov. Pritzker’s FY25 budget proposal called for close to $1 billion in new taxes on residents and businesses in the state, including continuing the inflation-ignoring cap that has “decoupled” the income tax standard deduction, utilized by almost all Illinois taxpayers, from inflation as measured by the Consumer Prince Index. If enacted into law this decoupling will, in FY25, take an estimated $93 million from the pockets of hardworking Illinois families. 

The Governor also proposed changes to the how much net operating losses businesses will be able to deduct on their taxes in tax year 2025. This change is expected to increase the tax liability of Illinois businesses by $526 million in FY25. The proposed Pritzker budget also includes a $200 million tax increase to be imposed on earnings from sports wagering. This would be imposed by raising the tax rate on sports wagering from 15% to 35%. The Governor’s proposed tax increases, if enacted, will be imposed on top of continuing increases in local property tax bills. Illinois is already ranked 9th overall as one of the 10-worst states in the nation with regards to overall tax burdens.