Dec 15, 2020

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 15

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 15
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsIllinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 15

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker held a press conference on December 15 to provide coronavirus updates. He discussed $700 million in budget cuts. Read the transcript here.

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Gov. Pritzker : (00:01)
… Against COVID-19. And in the coming days, more than 100,000 frontline healthcare workers across our state will join them. I want to offer my appreciation to the incredible network of IDPH and IEMA staff, state police troopers, hospital administrators, healthcare workers, and logistics coordinators working furiously even as we speak to ensure that these first rounds of vaccinations go as smoothly as possible. That good news was buoyed this morning with the FDA releasing its analysis of the Moderna vaccine ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the vaccine advisory group to discuss the findings for this vaccine, just as they did last week for Pfizer. As expected based on the public data, the FDA found no serious safety concerns with the Moderna vaccine and affirmed its 95% efficacy. That breaks down to 96% for those between 18 and 65, and 86% for those individuals above 65. And by all likelihood, this means that our shipments starting next week will include both the Pfizer and Moderna models.

Gov. Pritzker : (01:20)
And Dr. Zika and I will continue to update you on the progress as more and more of our healthcare workers receive these vaccines to protect themselves and their loved ones. Today, I want to provide another update of our state’s finances, both as it relates to COVID-19 and beyond. As you all know, the pandemic has caused every state in the nation to face tremendous revenue shortfalls and Illinois is no exception. The virus has created job losses that haven’t been seen since the great depression. The financial damage to families across America means fewer purchases of goods. Our travel and tourism industry has been decimated, causing the restaurant and hospitality industry to suffer mightily. And all of that has not only severely impacted American families, but also state budgets. For example, Florida has projected more than $5 billion in losses, leaving governor DeSantis to compare the resulting budget cuts to the murderous red wedding scene from Game of Thrones. In the first six months of the pandemic, our neighbors in Indiana lost an even greater percentage of their state revenues than we did in Illinois. In Alaska, revenue losses were eight times as severe. Georgia already cut $1 billion from K-12 public education alone. And here in Illinois, the loss of state tax revenue from COVID-19 will cost us in excess of $4 billion over two fiscal years. I have worked with governors of both parties and spoken countless times with members of Congress to aggressively advocate for direct federal support for state and local governments who have lost billions of dollars in revenue due to COVID-19. Making up for the missing dollars that fund schools and pay caregivers and first responders, and deliver essential support services to residents in need. Cities and services all across our state have taken a punishing blow because of COVID and the Congress needs to act. On top of the damage that COVID has wreaked on our state, Illinoisans know all too well that our fiscal health required intervention long before this. Yet before I was elected, little had been done to address it and lest you think the blame rests only on one party, remember it was the Republican administration of my predecessor, Bruce Rauner, along with his Republican supporters in the general assembly that left behind a multi-billion dollar deficit because of their unwillingness to accept a compromise. And in doing so, they severely damaged the lives of the most vulnerable children and families in Illinois. You might say this state suffered a two year Republican induced crisis before we ever got to COVID.

Gov. Pritzker : (04:32)
In 2018, I ran for governor with a commitment to propose longterm fiscal solutions. And I have done that. Indeed expanding discounted pension buyouts, consolidating police and fire pensions and negotiating employee healthcare savings are just a few of the changes that I’ve already implemented to save taxpayers money. And there’s more to do. I continue to believe that in addition to running government more efficiently, the best way to address our structural challenges is to fix the unfair tax system.

Gov. Pritzker : (05:09)
And instead of giving advantages to the most advantaged people, we should give a tax break to working people and require the wealthiest among us to pay a little bit more. That would have begun to bring structural balance to the state’s budget. But Republicans, both inside and outside the general assembly fought tooth and nail against the best solution for our working families, lying about what the fair tax would do for our state, pledging their allegiance to the wealthy and throwing lower and middle-class families under the bus.

Gov. Pritzker : (05:46)
The same people that funded the campaign against the fair tax have proposed taxing retirement income. I think that’s wrong. And I’ll continue to oppose that as I always have. It’s been two years since Republicans announced their wholesale opposition to the fair tax, and it’s been 40 days since the election, and they have yet to produce any viable answer for balancing the budget.

Gov. Pritzker : (06:13)
They worked and spent endlessly to defeat the best option Democrats put on the table. And after all their bluster, it turns out that Republicans have no plan at all to put the state on a firm fiscal foundation. In the wake of their deafening silence, our challenge remains. We have a projected budget shortfall of over $3.9 billion for this fiscal year. Nearly $2 billion of which was created by the revenue shortfall from COVID. The remainder is of a structural nature. Recognizing the possibility that we get assistance from the federal government for COVID losses sometime during this fiscal year, it’s the rest of the deficit that must be our focus right now. Today as a first step toward balancing the current year’s budget, I’m presenting over $700 million in initial cuts to our executive branch agencies. These are cuts that are under my control to make as governor without help from the general assembly.

Gov. Pritzker : (07:24)
This gets us part of the way toward addressing the budget deficit. For additional and more permanent balancing of our budgets going forward, I will work with the legislature, but make no mistake. Legislative action and engagement is required. While short-term federal help may yet come, we need to take action to maintain fiscal stability over the long run and address the problems that plagued Illinois pre pandemic. Over the years, state government in Illinois has been notoriously hollowed out. For example, there are approximately 25% fewer state government employees today than there were two decades ago. Also, state government spending on education is now among the lowest in the nation. And while there used to be 3000 Illinois state police troopers patrolling our 58,000 square miles of Illinois, there are now only 1900. If anything, our schools and our public safety and healthcare deserve more investments, not less. So cutting our budget will be by its very nature painful.

Gov. Pritzker : (08:41)
The executive branch alone cannot legally address these multi-year deficits unilaterally. So I am continuing this conversation with leaders and members of the general assembly on both sides of the aisle to identify their best ideas to make up the rest of the deficit and bring long-term stability and balance to our state’s fiscal foundation. I have an open door policy. I am more than happy to have a conversation with legislators interested in a substantive effort to get this done. In the meantime, the cost saving measures I present to you today have already begun to be implemented. In addition, my staff is in conversations with AFSME to discuss furlough days and personnel cost adjustments that will help us reduce spending by $75 million. By definition, taking employees off the front lines will slow the delivery of services to our residents, but this is the place we find ourselves today.

Gov. Pritzker : (09:49)
It pains me to pursue these actions because these state employees are public servants who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of the people that we all serve. Often, these are the people who are most in need of help. Many of these same employees, such as our corrections officers who put themselves in harm’s way every day before the pandemic, now go to work with the additional danger of COVID-19 facing them. They have more than earned our appreciation and our admiration for their dedication and hard work. That’s one reason why these cuts are painful, but like I said, opponents of the fairest long-term solution have put us in this situation. And there’s only so much on the table to choose from when you have a government as hollowed out as ours is. Approximately 10% of these reductions come from public safety agencies, most significantly from the department of corrections. The number of people incarcerated in Illinois has decreased by more than 10,000 individuals since the beginning of 2019.

Gov. Pritzker : (11:02)
… individuals since the beginning of 2019. This presents an opportunity for real savings this year and in future years. And it’s a critical opportunity to transform our prisons. I will be forming the Illinois Corrections Transformation Advisory Team to determine the best ways to move forward with these efficiencies. I’ve also previously announced a number of additional criminal justice reform priorities that will further reduce our prison populations as we seek to pursue greater fairness and equity for all Illinoisans. As we often see, when we move away from expensive, ineffective, and punitive models, this will likely also open the door for additional long-term savings.

Gov. Pritzker : (11:50)
Early on in our battle against COVID-19, my administration implemented a freeze on non-essential state government hiring and on travel. Those continue today and will continue indefinitely. I have also so implemented a significant reduction in vehicle and equipment purchases. And I have asked all departments to maximize the use of technology to reduce in-person gathering costs even once travel is deemed safer. We’re also making adjustments to our Community Care Program and the services that are provided there to older Illinoisans, including delaying the planned rate increase initially set for January 1st. I admit that this was a challenging decision because of how vital our community care workers are for our seniors, but this must be undertaking as a result of the deficit.

Gov. Pritzker : (12:47)
I’m also broadly freezing and reducing grant programs at a number of agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. That includes freezing 2020 grants for local governments, parks, and open land projects, implementing freezes or partial reductions on most grants at DCEO, and pausing issuance of school maintenance grants dependent upon casino gaming revenues.

Gov. Pritzker : (13:22)
I want to be clear, because tax fairness was taken off the table, there will be a real human impact here. And while we’ve scoured the budget for ways to cause the least pain, I’m sorry to say that we simply cannot prevent these losses from touching the real lives of our residents. We just can’t. These cuts reflect the first phase of our path forward, doing what is within my powers, unilaterally and without the legislature. This is going to be tough. And as my ongoing conversations with General Assembly would indicate, there is a great deal of work the legislature must do when it convenes next month.

Gov. Pritzker : (14:07)
From the beginning of my term in office, I’ve worked hard to bring honest solutions to the table, doing the hard things that must be done to put our fiscal house in order, including bringing efficiencies to lower the cost of operating state government, working to reduce the budget pressure of pension liabilities, investing in the expansion of revenue producing industries, and attracting our most promising economic assets, our college bound seniors, to stay in Illinois rather than go to college elsewhere. I promised to be a governor who balances the budget and begins paying down the bills that my predecessor left behind. I promised to invest in education, job training, and job creation.

Gov. Pritzker : (14:56)
Before COVID hit us, we did that. And despite all the current challenges, I’m confident that we will continue our ascent to economic strength and fiscal stability. We will find a way. And while there is no easy path forward, I promise that we will get through this, working together as people of goodwill with a laser-like focus on doing what’s best for the working families of Illinois. I look forward to hearing the Republican proposals for realistic cuts and balancing the budget. Thank you. And with that, I’d like to turn it over to Dr. ZK for today’s medical update.

Dr. Ezike: (15:44)
Good afternoon. It was in fact a great experience to witness today some of the first COVID-19 vaccinations being given here in Illinois. And I want to encourage people to be vaccinated when the vaccine is in fact available to you. Vaccination in general can be a polarizing topic and COVID-19 has seemingly widened this divide. COVID-19 may have appeared to come out of nowhere, although the virus that causes COVID-19 is new there are other coronavirus strains that do circulate in our communities. In this sense, coronavirus has some similarities to influenza in that there are different types of these viruses, and we can see one that can pop up that’s novel.

Dr. Ezike: (16:33)
Remember H1N1, an effective H1N1 vaccine was developed and an H1N1 strain has continued to be included in the flu vaccine to combat seasonal influenza every year for the last 10. Our ability to create safe and effective vaccines in a quicker timeframe grows with every passing year. Our scientific process has evolved so that it no longer takes as many years to develop a vaccine. And that’s great news for the world of modern medicine and all the people who benefit from it. As the vaccine for COVID-19 continues to roll out, I’ll do my best to dispel the myths and the misinformation that may accompany it.

Dr. Ezike: (17:17)
For one, the vaccine does not contain a tracking chip. There is no evidence to show that it causes infertility. And thirdly, getting the vaccine cannot result in you getting COVID-19. It can be easy to see something on Facebook or other social media portals and take it at face value. Perhaps it’s the story someone has heard that the virus is not real and therefore there’s no need for a vaccine. During these very difficult times when we’re all looking for answers, I do urge everyone to look at the larger body of work from science and medical research leaders. Don’t look at just one article, look at several articles to see where there’s consensus.

Dr. Ezike: (18:07)
Since yesterday, we’ve received a report of 7,359 individuals newly diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of 863,477 total cases. Unfortunately, we’ve also received report of 117 additional deaths, bringing the number of Illinoisans lost to COVID- 19 to 14,509. Overnight, hospitals reported 4,965 patients with COVID-19, 1057 were in the ICU, and 598 were on ventilators. In the last 24 hours, almost 93,000 tests have been reported for a total of almost 12 million total tests. We are starting to head in the right direction. So many of you have sacrificed and employed all of the public health mitigations, and I thank you that that has gotten us to where we are. We still do have many more months to go, but let’s continue toward that light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccinations, as well as the public health behaviors that you’ve already undertaken, will get us there and they’ll get us there sooner. Thank you, and continue to stay safe.

Dr. Ezike: (19:31)
[foreign language 00:19:49]

Dr. Ezike: (23:07)
[ Spanish 00:00:00]. And with that, I will turn it over to Governor Pritzker.

Gov. Pritzker : (23:47)
Thank you very much, Dr. Ezike. Happy to take questions from members of the media.

Speaker 1: (23:51)
Governor, good afternoon.

Gov. Pritzker : (23:52)
Good afternoon.

Speaker 1: (23:53)
I have a couple of questions for you. First on the vaccines, we’ve heard from several of the suburban hospitals that were expecting to receive their first shipments yesterday, and they’re still waiting. Obviously, they’d already scheduled workers to begin getting their vaccinations today. That’s not happening. What is happening with these shipments? Why are they delayed?

Gov. Pritzker : (24:14)
They’re not delayed. In fact, there was no delivery scheduled for any of them for today. There was no delay to any of them. I should just point out that cities get got their shipments directly, right? Large cities like the city of Chicago, large cities like New York City, et cetera. States received their shipments. Remember that in the state of Illinois, we have not only the 50 counties that are the priority who have had the highest number of deaths per capita and their hospitals that are nearby, but 96 local public health departments that need to receive their separate shipments.

Gov. Pritzker : (24:59)
So with the state, the shipments come into the state, they have to be repackaged to go to the RHCCs. Those are our regional hospitals. From there, the local public health departments pick them up and bring them back to their counties and then distribute them appropriately or directly to the hospitals. For the city of Chicago and for other large cities, they go directly to the local public health department. And also, remember, as I think I said in my remarks, we have 58,000 square miles of the state of Illinois in which to distribute these things, whereas a city like Chicago is much more compact.

Speaker 1: (25:35)
But these are suburban hospitals. They’re telling us that they have deliveries scheduled.

Gov. Pritzker : (25:40)
They did not. I think they were overly excited about … They were not. They were overly excited. The IHA, the Illinois Hospital Association, working with us and working with their hospitals were responsible with the individual hospitals for scheduling when those things would be delivered to them. Some, no doubt, are more excited than others and put it out there that they would be receiving them when they actually weren’t scheduled to. But they will. But I just want to be clear. Today, as you know, the first vaccines went into people’s arms. I’m very excited about that fact. There will be distributions over the course of the week. Tomorrow, there’ll be no doubt lots of people getting their vaccines pushed into the arms of hospital and healthcare workers as they will all week, and then the subsequent weeks we’ll be getting shipments and they’ll go out as they are this week.

Speaker 1: (26:36)
On the budget cuts that you just mentioned, is all of this, the $700 million, inevitable regardless of whether Congress approves aid for the states for COVID?

Gov. Pritzker : (26:50)
Well, nothing’s inevitable. I mean, the General Assembly needs to come to the table here so that we can collectively make some decisions. But I put on the table some very significant cuts. I want to make sure that the General Assembly comes to the table with their potential cuts, and then we will see where we are during that process. But so far, particularly the Republicans who worked so hard to defeat the best solution for this, have literally no solutions. They have not come to the table. I’m waiting for them, and I’ve put forward some ideas.

Speaker 1: (27:23)
I saw that $200 million of those cuts are for Health and Human Services during obviously a time of a pandemic. How’s that going to impact?

Gov. Pritzker : (27:33)
None of it will affect, in our view, directly anyway, the servicing of people who have COVID-19 or trying to protect people from COVID-19. We’ve tried to be very, very careful with the cuts that we made, so that … We know we live in a moment when public health, the Department of Public Health and our HFS, Healthcare and Family Services Department, are so vitally important, so we’re going to do everything we can to protect those departments, and particularly those areas where it affects the servicing of people who get COVID or protecting people who might get COVID.

Speaker 2: (28:12)
Okay. We’ll go online. Yvette Shields at the Bond Buyer. Can you confirm the MLF borrowing was finalized today, and can you say how much more in cuts will be sought and if you will press for a tax hike next month?

Gov. Pritzker : (28:26)
No. I can’t confirm that. I can’t confirm yet the MLF borrowing has been completed. As to more cuts or anything else to deal with our budget deficit, again, this is a first step. I’m awaiting the General Assembly’s engagement in this, and not just awaiting. I’ve reached out to the General Assembly, in particular to the Republicans, because they have a special responsibility here, having worked so hard to defeat the fair tax, to step up to the plate and tell us how they’re going to balance the budget, given that we have a $3.9 billion deficit, and about half of that has come from structural challenges that the state has. So, I hope they will step up to the plate, because they defeated the best solution to the structural challenges.

Speaker 2: (29:16)
Tony at the Washington Post. Senate Democrats are signaling they may have to, in fact, drop state and local fiscal aid from their stimulus package in order to pass it before the year’s end. Do you support this approach and what effects would it have?

Gov. Pritzker : (29:29)
Well, we want to make sure we get the most support to the most number of people in the United States. There’s no doubt about that. It’s surprising and disappointing. Not really surprising, mostly just disappointing that the Republicans have so worked against supporting working families across the country, and I’m not talking specifically about state and local funding. I’m talking about at every turn, they wanted this to be a smaller and smaller package. They were okay sending trillions of dollars to businesses, large businesses, but now when it comes to helping families, they seem to want to cut everything, so I’m very disappointed in the entire attitude that the Republican Party seems to have at the federal level.

Gov. Pritzker : (30:15)
Now, I will say there are some good Republicans in the Senate who understand that their Republican-led states are challenged by COVID-19 and the loss of revenues. Big states, large States that are run by Republicans, have Republican legislatures need support, and they have publicly expressed their desire and need for support, and yet Mitch McConnell and the leadership in the Senate have been reluctant. More than reluctant. They’ve been opposed, so that is very disappointing. I’m going to work hard. I think that whether they pass it now or don’t pass it now, once the new president is sworn and the new Congress is sworn in … Because, remember, we’re in a lame duck Congress right now. So, once the new Congress is sworn in, once the new president is sworn in, we’ll have another opportunity.

Gov. Pritzker : (31:05)
The new president, the president-elect has pledged to work very hard to get state and local funding, because, unfortunately, I just want to remind everybody what this means. When you don’t support state and local government, what you’re saying is you don’t support police, firefighters, nurses, social workers, the very people that are on the front lines that we care deeply about. And none of us wants to see massive layoffs, but that’s what’s happening and will happen as a result of their failure, and so we need to make sure that cities and states get their support that they need.

Speaker 2: (31:41)
Sruthi at Bloomberg. What will the $2 billion in MLF borrowing be used for?

Gov. Pritzker : (31:47)
Well, for replacement of COVID revenue. Losses of revenue as a result of COVID.

Speaker 2: (31:53)
Ryan Boyles. What are your thoughts on the state review board’s decision this afternoon to reject Trinity Health’s plan to close Chicago’s Mercy Hospital?

Gov. Pritzker : (32:03)
Well, I think all along, you know that I have believed and have said many times that healthcare is a right and not a privilege. It’s particularly important that we stand up for equity, and that’s why I’ve spoken with the owners of Mercy Hospital, Trinity, and with a number of potential buyers to try to push things along to make sure that something can happen here that will save the hospital, and I’m ready to go to work to do whatever that will take it. It will, just so you understand, require the General Assembly to step up and act. There’s a hospital transformation bill that should have been passed in the May brief COVID session that everybody said, “Well, in the veto session, it’ll get passed.” Well, the veto session got postponed or done away with, and so now we’re looking at January at earliest in order for us to do …

Gov. Pritzker : (33:03)
… now we’re looking at January at earliest. In order for us to do something for Mercy, and frankly, for many of the other hospitals, we have to pass hospital transformation.

Speaker 2: (33:10)
Kelly Bauer at Block Club. We understand ACEP makes recommendations for vaccinations, but will the state lobby to have teachers be prioritized before other essential workers?

Gov. Pritzker : (33:20)
You can’t lobby ACEP. They’re not an organization that you can lobby. I think that, on the other hand, ACEP is doing a good job of considering all of the different groups that need to be considered. It’s very important, I’ve spoken out publicly about the need for equity in this. I’m hopeful that ACEP, which is doing its work, will come out with the next phases. We’ll learn more over the coming days and weeks.

Speaker 2: (33:47)
Rachel Hinton at the Sun Times. The committee looking into Madigan concluded yesterday and the speaker did not testify nor has he come out and answered all the questions from the press or residents of the state. Should Madigan step down as speaker?

Gov. Pritzker : (33:59)
Well, I’ve said time and time again that the speaker needs to answer questions. These are very troubling allegations against him. The next phase of this is clearly in the hands of the General Assembly, but I’m really disappointed that with the forum of the special committee that that was not taken up as an opportunity to answer questions. But listen, the speaker can hold a press conference today, he could call one right now and answer questions, and I would hope that he will.

Speaker 2: (34:29)
Dave Dahl had a question at WTAX. On Thursday last week, you said the state is ready to help counties and cities, et cetera. What did you mean by that? What sort of help is available?

Gov. Pritzker : (34:42)
Well, I think you’re aware that IDPH has done quite a lot of outreach to our county public health departments to assist them, webinars, a greater understanding of what their obligations are under the agreements that they’ve made. They’ve put plans forward that have been approved by IDPH or presented to IDPH and they need to follow those plans. We’re answering questions constantly, I bet there is not an hour that goes by that IDPH is not getting a question or a concern raised from one county or another. We’re trying to make sure that all of their questions are answered and that they’re doing the right thing for the people of their counties.

Speaker 2: (35:24)
Mike Miletich at Quincy TV. Do you have an exact timeline of when the vaccine will be in the hands of health departments in smaller counties without hospitals?

Gov. Pritzker : (35:32)
No, there’s no exact timeline. I want to just step back a second and talk to all the reporters and all the people who are listening and make sure that you understand that this is a complex logistics operation to get to all 102 counties, the 96 public health departments, all the hospitals within their jurisdictions. They’re working very hard, the local public health departments, as are the regional, the RHCCs, where we are delivering the vaccine for distribution. None of this is going to happen on a military timetable, but it is happening. We have an excellent logistics team and they are delivering. I feel confident that over the next 24, 48, 72 hours, you will see vaccines being pushed into people’s arms all across the state of Illinois.

Speaker 2: (36:28)
Elizabeth Matthews at Fox. Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on recommended priority groups, does this recommendation by ACOG change your thoughts on whether or not pregnant women should receive the vaccine?

Dr. Ezike: (36:45)
Can you repeat the question, please?

Speaker 2: (36:47)
Yeah, I think this might’ve been the second half of it. Hold on, I’m looking it up. It looks like she’s quoting a study, hold on one second, from ACOG.

Dr. Ezike: (36:58)

Speaker 2: (36:58)
I was looking for the rest of it, but it seems like the whole thing. Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on recommended priority groups, does this recommendation by ACOG change your thoughts on whether or not pregnant women should receive the vaccine?

Dr. Ezike: (37:17)
I don’t hear the recommendation by ACOG in there, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, but I know that what is recommended is that pregnant women and breastfeeding women can consult with their provider to make those decisions. We do know that with flu vaccine, that is strongly recommended that women pregnant get that every single year, even if they’re pregnant. It’s especially important to help protect both the mom and the baby. This is not a live virus. Again, I want to emphasize that the COVID vaccine does not contain live virus, not killed virus, inactivated virus, attenuated virus. It does not have the virus. The vaccines that contain virus are the ones that pregnant women are told to not receive during pregnancy. Given that we have seen some risks associated with developing COVID-19 in pregnancy, so therefore that is why the recommendation is for pregnant people to consult with their caregiver so that they can decide what’s in the best interest for them, depending on how high their risk of COVID was, if they had comorbid conditions, et cetera. Those decisions can be made in consultation with their doctor.

Speaker 2: (38:41)
Jim Haggerty at The Rockford Advocate. Does the state have any plans to step in and make COVID vaccines mandatory for elementary, high school or college students, much like the vaccinations for measles and other communicable diseases that are required in those settings?

Gov. Pritzker : (38:54)
Not right now.

Speaker 2: (38:56)
Tony Arnold from WBZ will be our last question. Do you favor raising the state’s flat income tax? If so, how much?

Gov. Pritzker : (39:03)
I’m focused on the cuts that we need to make in state government. We’ve got to balance the budget and you’ve got to look at both sides, the expenditure side, the revenue side, in order to get there. Right now I’m focused entirely on what cuts can we make, what do we need to do. I want to make sure that the General Assembly and the governor are managing the taxpayer’s dollars as efficiently and effectively as we can. That’s all I’m focused on right now.

Speaker 2: (39:35)
Okay. Thanks, everyone.

Gov. Pritzker : (39:36)
Thank you.

Speaker 1: (39:37)
Governor, before we leave, may I ask you one last question that came in from one of my colleagues, and that is asking whether Illinois has gotten the money that you need from the federal government to assist with the vaccine rollout, distribution, tracking, administer shots, all of that?

Gov. Pritzker : (39:51)
As you may know, in the bill that’s being considered right now in the Congress, there are dollars to support the rollout of vaccines, continued support for testing and contact tracing, et cetera. I’m urging the Congress to pass that bill because there’s no doubt that every state needs support. This is going to go on, this isn’t a one-month process. This is probably certainly going to go on for six months. Of course, we’re going to be putting out vaccines for probably longer than that, because there’ll be people who just wait until a long time from now. We’re going to need assistance from the federal government to provide that.

Speaker 1: (40:30)
So as of now, nothing.

Gov. Pritzker : (40:33)
Well, right now we’re looking at what the costs are going to be for the coming calendar year and that’s what the Congress is considering. Yep, thank you.

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