Differences of opinion whether Illinois should get federal bailout

(The Center Square) – Illinois Senate Democrats have requested $41 billion from the federal government in non-COVID-19-related aid. Some argue the state’s taxpayers pay more in federal taxes than the state gets back. Others think a bailout sets the wrong president for a poorly run state.

Members of Illinois’ congressional delegation have different takes on whether Illinois should get tens of billions of dollars to plug state budget holes and cover state and local pension debt.

It’s unclear if there’ll be another financial aid package from Congress during the COVID-19 emergency. Illinois Senate Democrats have requested $41 billion from the federal government for non-COVID-19-related costs. The state spends about $40 billion in state funds annually. It also gets about that much in federal funding each year.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, said Illinois deserves more money from the feds.

“The big issue here is that Illinois loses between $20 billion and $40 billion every year because we pay a lot more in federal taxes than we get back in federal spending,” Foster said.

He suggests that if that money over decades were, instead of being sent to the federal government, put into a state rainy day fund Illinois would have over a trillion dollars. Illinois has virtually no rainy day fund with hundreds of billions in unfunded liabilities and debts.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said he’ll demand more fair federal transportation funding transportation for state and local coffers, but the rest of the country shouldn’t be on the hook for bad Illinois policies.

“We at the federal level, we cannot be held accountable for decisions that have been made by almost uninterrupted 40-year Democratic rule here in the Illinois General Assembly,” Davis said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and President Donald Trump have taken jabs at each other over the issue of Illinois’ finances.

State Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, said Illinois hasn’t been well run and a federal bailout would send the wrong message without changes to spending and decades of policies that he said hurt taxpayers.

“And if the federal government comes out and bails out people that aren’t doing it the right way, that have spent decades doing it the wrong way, that sets a terrible precedent,” Plummer said. “What does that say to every other state?”

Plummer said Illinois is insolvent and he’s willing to discuss what a bankruptcy would look like, but no state government has ever done that.

Protesting the governor’s stay home order last weekend in Springfield, Fred Helmuth from Arcola said he doesn’t think the state should get a bailout or be allowed to go bankrupt.

“What they need to do is actually lower the taxes because they’re running businesses out of the state of Illinois right now,” Helmuth said.

Helmuth said the state can only fix its problems through economic growth and said it’s time to open the economy back up.

Illinois’ economy has been at a virtual standstill since March 21 when Pritzker issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. The governor is expected to extend the orders through May 30.

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