SPRINGFIELD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday he would consider withholding federal pass-through funds to counties ignoring his stay-at-home order and said it “would be best” for the General Assembly to meet before the end of May to take up key state business.
When asked in his daily COVID-19 briefing via videoconference Tuesday if the state would consider withholding federal aid to counties reopening early, Pritzker said, “we would consider that.”
“The state already provides a lot of support for cities and counties,” he said. “And so I would just suggest that there are a number of enforcement mechanisms that are available to us, and I don’t want to utilize those — I have asked people to do the right thing and I want to point out that the vast majority of people in Illinois have been doing the right thing and I’m so very proud of that.”
Pritzker said those disobeying his orders are “outliers” who are “not following science and data,” but rather they are “listening to partisan rhetoric” and “following their own instincts, but no science.”
The governor’s comments came one day after Republican leaders in the Illinois House and Senate sent him a joint letter urging him to revise his reopening plan and call a special session to “further discuss and develop the necessary adjustments to your plan that protects the public’s health while at the same time moves our economy forward more quickly.”
“Last week, you unveiled your Restore Illinois plan that we believe is far too restrictive to those businesses struggling to stay afloat economically during this crisis.
Furthermore, the parameters your plan puts in place in determining when a region can move between phases will only cause further economic hardship to small businesses and our state,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said in the letter Monday.
Per Pritzker’s plan, the state is divided into four regions, and the earliest any region can move to the next phase of reopening is May 29.
The governor on Tuesday said he has spoken to all four of the legislative leaders about returning to session. He did not say he would call a special session, however, stating that if he did, it “does not mean they will all show up.”
“They have to have confidence in the plan for showing up,” Pritzker said. “And that means that the leadership, both Republican and Democratic, need to agree to a plan has been, you know, reviewed by the Department of Public Health.”
Still, Pritzker said, the Legislature “must convene so that we can begin to put our financial and economic house back in order, even as we battle this terrible virus. The General Assembly needs to pass a comprehensive plan to support families, small businesses and small towns.”
He added the size of such an aid package would be “dependent upon whether or not we are able to get relief from the federal government” for lost revenues such as sales and income taxes.
“I think it would be best if they could get together before the end of May, so that we can get the very necessary things done like our budget,” he said.