SPRINGFIELD -- State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) offered mixed reaction to Governor J.B. Pritzker's first combined state of the State and Budget Address on Wednesday. Bryant says she was encouraged by several of Pritzker's talking points, but remained seriously concerned by a couple of the Governor's major proposals.
"Gov. Pritzker is probably one of the more comfortable public speakers I've seen," Bryant said. "Today, I thought he gave a pretty honest assessment about where we are as a state, but that doesn't mean I agree with all of the ideas he has to solve our financial challenges."
Bryant says she was encouraged by the governor's focus on increasing funding for public education and for higher education. Gov. Pritzker proposed a 5 percent increase in funding for higher education and also a $50 million increase for MAP grant funding.
"The line items the governor has proposed for higher education and MAP grant funding were definitely encouraging after the difficulties we have experienced recently," Bryant said. "I will have to carefully study any and all spending plans throughout the rest of the Session but I am hopeful that SIU and the community colleges that I represent will receive a bump."
In reaction to Gov. Pritzker's cost savings plan on pension contributions, Bryant was less optimistic.
"I think taking a trip back in the Rod Blagojevich pension holiday time machine is bad public policy," Bryant said. "We've seen time and time again that skipping pension payments to pay for current operating expenses is bad fiscal policy. It only increases the costs for future generations."
Bryant says Prtizker used today's speech to kick off what is likely to be a two-year campaign to get a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot that would allow for a graduated income tax, or a progressive tax hike.
"House Republicans have stood firm against a progressive tax hike," Bryant said. "We believe $38.5 billion is more than enough to run the state of Illinois. Instead of expanding social programs with shaky revenue gimmicks and relying on phantom revenue estimates on things like legalized weed and sports betting, I believe any new spending should be directed to help shore up our pensions and pay down our backlog of bills."