Pritzker estimates $2.7 billion revenue shortfall from COVID-19
The state will lose an estimated $2.7 billion this fiscal year and $4.6 billion next fiscal year because of the effects of the near total economic shutdown from the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday.
The revenue loss this fiscal year, which concludes at the end of June, amounts to a 7% drop in estimated state income, he said. At least $1 billion of this year's shortfall is due to moving the income tax return filing deadline to July 15.
"This is a public health crisis, but it's accompanied by a massive economic disruption that is unprecedented in modern history," Pritzker said.
He added that if voters reject a proposal to change the state's income tax structure to a graduated rate format in November, the revenue shortfall could increase even more next year.
"I would argue it's needed more than ever," he said. "A fairer tax system makes sense."
Republicans attacked his statement as using the pandemic for political gain.
"Pritzker using a coronavirus briefing to campaign for the progressive income tax is inappropriate and unfortunate," Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said. "With a global pandemic that has plunged the state's economy to depths not seen since the Great Depression, this is the worst possible time to push through a tax hike that will crush small businesses who provide so many of our jobs."
Naperville Republican State Rep. Grant Wehrli suggested the governor's statement was against state regulations.
"Did (Gov. Pritzker) just use state time/resources to advance a position on a ballot question? That would be an ethics violation," Wehrli tweeted.
To cut costs, Pritzker is asking state department heads to locate and enact spending reductions and identify efficiencies. Additionally, he is leveraging $700 million in state funds to support the operation of the government and will use his executive authority to borrow $1.2 billion, he said.
This comes as Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced a new portal on her website that outlines daily state coronavirus-related purchases. Those now total nearly $170 million, according to the website.
Meanwhile, the human toll of the outbreak continues to grow with 80 more deaths in Illinois from the virus announced Wednesday and an additional 1,346 infections. That brings the state's death toll to 948 and the number of people infected to 24,593.
Since the outbreak began, 3.7% of the residents with confirmed cases have died, according to Illinois Department of Public Health figures.
A Daily Herald analysis of the state's death toll shows slightly more than 4% of suburban infections have ended in death and more than half of those who have died in Illinois are from the suburbs.
IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said the rate of death may be exaggerated as many cases have gone undiagnosed because of a lack of testing availability.
"The denominator, in terms of the total number of people who have cases, is grossly underestimated," she said. "We know that because we had limited supply of the testing materials."
But she believes the number of dead from the disease is "closer to accurate" because of the medical testing that was done.
After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated residents wear a mask in public, Pritzker acknowledged he finds the idea of such a mandate "seriously important" to protect the public. But he stopped short of saying he would enact such a mandate any time soon.
Pritzker was also asked about the state's efforts to secure much-sought personal protective equipment for state hospital workers and first responders that was referred to as "secret flights" in some media reports. He acknowledged there was an air of secrecy to the shipment from China.
"I wanted to make sure we received what we ordered," he said. "The federal government seems to be interrupting supplies that are being sent elsewhere in the nation."