State Representative Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, issued the following statement today in response to Governor JB Pritzker’s Budget Address delivered to a joint session of the General Assembly:
“The Governor touched on issues that are important to local families and students, for example our shared priority of investing in higher education, expanding the MAP grant program, and the positive news that enrollment is up across our state universities. Specifically, the Governor’s call for a 5% increase in higher education funding and making community college funding work for all MAP-eligible students are goals I can work with the Governor on. I also applaud the Governor’s call to expand the optional pension buyout plan to all state retirement systems. Giving workers this choice is good for taxpayers because it reduces Illinois’ long-term pension liability while protecting the hard-earned benefits of current retirees and allows those in the middle of their careers or nearing retirement flexibility in their planning. I also support the Governor’s call to significantly increase funding for mental health and addiction treatment services. We have continually seen this area lead to increased costs in other areas of the budget and if we can act in a preventative manner we will see long term cost savings.
I was disappointed that we didn’t see more presented in the area of simplifying and making more efficient how state government works. We need to identify areas that slow us down and cost unneeded tax dollars. I wanted to hear more from the Governor about the need to deliver meaningful property tax relief and reforms to make Illinois more competitive with neighboring states in attracting new jobs, the way DeKalb has done by landing Ferrara Candy Company. We need to do a better job of replicating that success across the state. We need to grow our way out of our fiscal hole, not tax us deeper.”