Dear Governor Pritzker, Speaker Welch, & Senate President Harmon,
As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are facing the financial impacts resulting from businesses closing and our state’s massive uptick in unemployment claims. As Illinois borrowed funds from the federal government, we were left with a bill of over $4 billion—not including interest—for our Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund. Fortunately, we had money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) fund balance to pay back the federal government.
Disappointingly, during our spring session in the General Assembly, we did not take the route of other states to responsibly use these federal relief dollars to pay our unemployment insurance debt. Rather, the majority decided to pay off a portion of the debt and spend the rest of the money on new programs and one-time expenditures. This left a $1.8 billion hole in our budget with absolutely no plan to fill it and left Illinois liable for unnecessary interest and penalties. Consequently, taxpayers will face future increases, benefits will be reduced, and our UI Trust Fund will be vulnerable in the event of another emergency.
Nevertheless, we now have an opportunity to avoid these financial burdens with the surplus revenue from fiscal year ‘22. Interest payments to the federal government from our General Revenue Fund can immediately stop with allocation of these funds and direction from the Governor’s office to send these funds to pay off this debt.
For that reason, we call on you, Governor Pritzker, Speaker Welch, and Senate President Harmon to call the General Assembly back into a Special Session to immediately pay off the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debt. We urge this action to relieve future fiscal burdens from Illinois businesses and residents. If we prioritize paying this debt to the federal government, we can prepare the fund in case of another future emergency, avoid unnecessary interest penalties, and dodge a tax hike on jobs in Illinois.
We look forward to your response,
Dan Ugaste, State Representative, 65th District
Mike Marron, State Representative, 104th District