Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker earlier this week announced a $45.4 billion budget proposal that includes tax breaks on food, gas and real estate.
But according to critics, these tax cuts are “election year gimmicks.”
As inflation leads to higher prices, the governor is looking for ways to offset this burden. He hopes to eliminate the 1% sales tax on groceries for a year, freeze the highway fuel tax at 39.2 cents a gallon, rather than have the index rate increased to 2.2 cents and a rebate of up to $300 equal to the property tax credit available on income taxes.
Pritzker says the changes will bring “real relief to families across Illinois.”
But businessman Gary Rabine, one of Pritzker’s Republican opponents in the run for governor, says the budget is “a one-off giveaway based on a huge federal government bailout” of COVID-19 aid funds.
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, another Republican gubernatorial candidate, asked, “Once that one-off cash for COVID-19 has dried up, what will he do the year after and the year after?”
“Well, same thing he did before, he’s going to come back to the Illinoisans and say I want to raise your taxes,” Irvin continued.
However, Pritzker stated that federal relief funds play no part in his plans, stating, “We have a budget surplus with no federal dollars at all.”
Ted Dabrowski of Wirepoints, a bipartisan group that studies state finances, says Illinois needs structural reforms — not small changes.
“Unfortunately, Illinois residents pay the second highest property taxes in the country,” he said. “They pay the second highest gas taxes in the country. You don’t need a little tax break for a year…”
In addition to tax breaks, the governor also faced questions about crime and whether his criminal justice reform bill went too far.
Illinois Senator Darren Bailey, a Republican running for governor, said, “The men and women who break the law seem to have more rights than we, the people, and there’s something wrong with that. “
Pritzker disagreed, saying in part, “…There were a lot of people, a lot of people, that were in the room making decisions from across the state, including law enforcement.”
Both issues – crime and taxes – are likely to dominate the 2022 governor’s race.