Pritzker warns of budget cuts, layoffs amid pandemic

Governor JB Pritzker is preparing to cut about $2 billion from the current state budget and warns some public employees could lose their jobs, including police and firefighters.

Some local governments have already cut back on first responders.

Although the state of Illinois’ constitution contains a toothless requirement for a "balanced budget," the current $43 billion spending plan relies on borrowing $5 billion. Governor Pritzker says the state is still coming up short and may, like many local governments, be forced to cut jobs.

“When you include all of the cities and counties that are affected by this, we're literally talking about thousands of people who will get laid off,” the governor said.

A political stalemate on Capitol Hill may kill prospects for any additional coronavirus relief funds from Washington. U.S. Senate Republicans and President Donald Trump vow no "bailout" of what they call "mismanaged" government budgets, pointing in particular to Illinois and the Chicago area.

The governor doubts congress will do a deal.

“They’re only in session until sometime later this month. And then they're all going to takeoff for the elections. So, obviously if we get to the end of September then we're going to have start looking seriously at all these cuts,” Pritzker said.

The AFSCME union, representing certain workers at the state of Illinois and city of Chicago, is still holding out hope for a deal in Washington.

“There is some time. And we believe that time should be focused on getting the federal government to do what it needs to do to pass a COVID relief bill for every state, city, town and school district to prevent harmful cuts,” said spokesman Anders Lindall.