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Illinois Democrats seek $41B in federal coronavirus relief

April 19, 2020 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Senate Democrats have sought more than $41 billion from the federal government in the next coronavirus relief plan, including $10 billion for a pension fund bailout.

Senate President Don Harmon requested the help in a letter to U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and Illinois’ congressional delegation, including $15 billion in block grant funding to fill budget gaps over three years, $9.6 billion for local governments and $6 billion for Illinois’ unemployment insurance system.

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“I realize I’ve asked for a lot, but this is an unprecedented situation, and we face the reality that there likely will be additional, unanticipated costs that could result in future requests for assistance,” Harmon wrote in the letter sent Tuesday.

The Illinois Republican Party blasted the effort on Twitte r as ”brazenly using a global pandemic as an excuse” to fix longtime financial problems.

Illinois has one of the nation’s worst-funded pension systems.

Harmon’s office said the outbreak’s negative effect on state and local economics hasn’t been addressed and the requested amounts were based on past budgets, research and conversations with local officials.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and House Speaker Michael Madigan weren’t directly involved in writing the letter, according to Harmon’s office.

Pritzker said Saturday he didn’t know letter’s content and the request was “different than what I have been talking to the federal representatives about.”