State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur), who in the past has advocated for a balanced budget without new taxes and overspending, has criticized Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $45.4 billion general revenue spending plan for fiscal year 2023 that calls for $1 billion in tax cuts.

After Pritzker unveiled his budget proposal during his Feb. 2 State of the State Address, Caulkins posted on his website that the budget wouldn’t “cure Illinois’ fiscal crisis,” and that the new budget doesn’t account for “the realities the state faces.”

“The fact is our economy has lost $31.4 billion due to population loss,” Caulkins said in his statement. “Over 250,000 jobs that existed before the lockdowns are gone. And small businesses still have not been made whole.”

Pritzker’s budget includes the proposed Family Relief Plan that Pritzker said in his address would “provide immediate assistance to help families fight inflation.” The plan includes “$475 million in property tax rebates for families, with a one-time property tax rebate payment to homeowners of 5% of property taxes paid, up to $300 for those eligible for a state income tax credit.”

The Family Relief Plan also includes savings of $360 million by freezing for the fiscal year the state's tax on groceries and $135 million by freezing for the fiscal year the planned increase in the gas tax. Fiscal Year 2023 goes from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

Caulkins though, wasn't impressed by the numbers. Temporary tax cuts and property tax rebates outlined in Pritzker’s budget are election-year gimmicks, Caulkins said. Structural reform to major systems such as the pension system and Medicaid are needed to solve budget problems, he said.

“The people I represent are tired of the same lies and gimmicks from Springfield,” Caulkins said. “This Groundhog Day nightmare must come to an end. But that means we need an honest accounting of the realities the state faces, and that is not what Illinois got this afternoon.”