Illinois Senate Democrats passed a budget that supports top priorities for the state, including education and important social services. Their budget plan also responds to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing additional support to small businesses and workforce development programs.
“Not only is this budget balanced, it provides stability by making our full required pension payment, paying down the borrowing we needed last year and funding many of our priorities to put our state on the right path,” said State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago), the Senate’s chief budget expert. “As a member of the Illinois legislative Black Caucus and sponsor of its criminal justice pillar, I am also proud that this budget funds the enhanced training and other associated improvements passed earlier this year to enact the SAFE-T Act.”
The budget continues the caucus’ commitment to evidence-based funding reform for Illinois’ public schools with a $350 million investment in additional resources. This money will go to school districts that need it most, helping uplift lower-income urban and rural communities.
Recognizing the need to support colleges and universities, the plan also keeps whole state investments to public institutions of higher learning and increases funding for the state’s primary need-based financial aid program. At the same time, these schools are receiving more than $1 billion in direct support from the federal government to help make up for any challenges and financial losses caused by the pandemic.
“Following an unprecedented year, I’m pleased that we have crafted a budget that prioritizes our students first and puts Illinois on the path towards stability,” said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “This year has been tough on so many people, but especially our students.”
To further help people and communities recover from the pandemic, the budget redirects money from a federal corporate tax giveaway to small businesses and workforce development programs. This approximately $450 million investment will create jobs, help neighborhood businesses grow, and rebuild Illinois’ unique cities and neighborhoods.
“The budget makes urgently needed investments in our local economies to help small businesses not just recover, but grow and thrive,” said Assistant Majority Leader Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), a longtime advocate for working Illinoisans.
The budget passed by the General Assembly also fully supports local governments, helping prevent property tax increases, and includes investments in social services. It provides increased funding for mental health, substance abuse treatment programs, and support services to help older adults stay in their homes, as Senate Democrats recognize the heightened demands on these programs caused by the pandemic.
Finally, the budget also pays down state debt stemming from providing pandemic-related services early, saving tens of millions of dollars in interest payments and setting Illinois on the path to a bright financial future.