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Illinois spends $5 million in federal money on ‘must wear mask’ campaign

Illinois continues its spendthrift ways, announcing it will be spending $5 million on a “mask awareness” campaign to encourage Illinois residents to wear masks as the state struggles with a $6 billion budget deficit that was amongst the worse in the nation even before the pandemic caused state tax revenues to plunge.

“I’m proud to launch a new public awareness campaign today that has a straightforward message for Illinoisans: A mask is like anything that keeps us safe. It only works if you wear it,” said Gov. JB Pritzker, who, with more than a $3 billion net worth, is America’s wealthiest governor.

The problem for Illinois is that it has been facing a budget apocalypse with nearly $10 billion pension liability annually, a result of sweetheart deals between politicos and union officials who negotiated unsustainable government employee benefits that are funded by taxpayers.

The mandatory masks to combat coronavirus, says Pritzker, are needed as Illinois faces an increased number of residents test positively for the virus.

The extra money is not an issue says Pritzker, as the expense will be picked up by the federal government, and fines for non-compliance could outweigh the expense of the campaign.

“People who refuse to wear a mask, people who are entering public premises where they know they’re supposed to wear a mask and who have been reminded, and who aren’t — those people certainly should be, you know, reminded again by police and ultimately, if they’re absolutely refusing in public, they’re putting other people at risk. So it’s worthy of considering fine at a local level,” he said.

Pritzker’s newest campaign relies on mandatory seatbelt and helmet laws in making the case that masks save lives.

“The initiative compares masks to seat belts in cars, bicycle helmets, life jackets and more in their life-saving capabilities,” says NBC News Chicago.

Hanging over the state is a threatened lockdown by Pritzker if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

Illinois hasn’t seen the numbers of infections that more hard-hit states like New York and New Jersey have, but instead has seen a steady number of cases with a slight respite in June, despite imposing some of the most draconian restrictions in the country.

Previously, Pritzker pushed for criminal penalties for companies that opened in violation of stay-at-home orders.

That proposal was especially galling when it was revealed that Pritzker’s own family spent the pandemic on their horse estate in Florida and then violated stay-at-home orders to travel to their farm in Wisconsin after returning to Illinois.  

Unlike Illinois companies dinged by Pritzker under the proposed executive order criminalizing activities in violation of stay-at-home orders, the Wisconsin farm was exempt from the governor’s order, being in another state.

“I just will say we have a working farm,” said Pritzker responding to the criticism. “They’re there now. There are animals on that farm, that is an essential function to take care of animals at a farm, so that’s what they’re doing.”

Masks and stay-at-home orders for some. Business-as-usual for others.

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