Illinois COVID-19: Pritzker warns of budget cuts as IL reports 1,466 new coronavirus cases, 20 deaths

ByCraig Wall and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Gov. Pritzker warns of budget cuts as IL reports 1,466 new COVID-19 cases
The governor warned of 5% cuts this fiscal year, and 10% cuts next fiscal year without assistance from the federal government.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials announced 1,466 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 deaths Tuesday as Governor JB Pritzker warned of budget cuts due to COVID-19 if the state does not get federal help.

The governor laid out an ominous budget scenario Tuesday due to the economic consequences of the pandemic.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois now stands at 264,210 with 8,332 deaths, the IDPH reported.

The preliminary seven-day positivity rate from September 8 - September 14 is 3.6%.

Within the past 24 hours, the state processed 39,031 specimens for a total of 4,810,827.

As of Monday night, 1,584 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 373 patients in the ICU and 144 patients on ventilators.

The budget cuts laid out by Pritzker would impact numerous state agencies, including those who help the most vulnerable, like the Department of Human Services, which provides food assistance to low-income families, or the Department of Children and Family Services, which the governor has been trying to rebuild.

The governor said he has sent notice to all cabinet directors to prepare for the possibility of cuts of at least 5% for the current fiscal year, and 10% cuts possibly next year.

"I can promise you that for everyone and anyone who got into public service, who actually wants to serve the public, this is a nightmare scenario," he said.

"A pandemic is when public services are needed more than ever. That's the worse possible time to cut those services, and an economic crisis of unprecedented severity in our lifetimes that we're confronting now," said Anders Lindall, public policy director for AFSCME Local 31. "That's the worst time to cut jobs and take money out of the pockets of working families."

Pritzker said the only way to avoid the cuts, which could also impact the Department of Corrections and Illinois State Police, is for the federal government to step in.

"This is about support for our nation's economic recovery that only the federal government can provide, just like it did for the corporate sector already," Pritzker said.

Governor JB Pritzker announces another round of Business Interruption Grants for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor blamed the need for cuts on the recession caused by the pandemic, but one fiscal watchdog group said the governor also needs to look at structural changes in government, including to pensions. They said it's not just federal bailout or bust.

"So I think what the governor is essentially doing here is, he's trying to apply political pressure to the federal government to encourage them to pass the bailout he wants," said Adam Schuster, senior director of budget and tax research at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Gov. Prtizker called on the president and Congress to work together to pass a COVID-19 pandemic relief package to help states. Congress was set to adjourn Friday, Oct. 2, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday the House will remain in session until there is a deal on a relief package for states.

The comments on the state budget came at a press conference announcing a new round of Business Interruption Grants.

Governor Pritzker said the state would be taking applications for the second round of grants worth a total of $220 million next week.

Pritzker said this amount is four times larger than the first round, which focused on businesses that faced significant shutdowns like gyms and personal care services. The governor said this round would be open for all small businesses, including an emphasis on movie theaters and performing arts centers.

In addition to the Business Interruption Grants, Governor Pritzker announced $25 million to help distressed communities affected by civil unrest over the summer.