socastcmsRssStartBy Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is optimistic about the state’s future after voters put control of Illinois’ government in the hands of Democrats.
That’s in contrast to the man Pritzker beat. Gov. Bruce Rauner recently said he’s concerned the Democrat’s victory will lead to more of the same in Illinois: Tax increases, deficit spending and self-dealing.
The incoming governor said people voted for the issues he campaigned on.
Pritzker is on a three-day “Thank You Tour” throughout Illinois. During the campaign, Pritzker ended his speeches by asking supporters “are you ready for the fight?” On Monday, Lt. Gov.-elect Juliana Stratton said that question has changed.
“Here’s the question now: Are you ready for the work?” Stratton said to applause at a stop in Springfield at the Sangamon County Democratic headquarters Monday.
Pritzker stopped in Peoria, Taylorville, Decatur and Champaign Saturday. Sunday his campaign was in Effingham, Frankfort, Marion, and Caseyville. Monday’s stops were in Springfield, Galesburg, Rock Island, and Rockford.
Pritzker won last month with 54.53 percent of the vote. He beat out the Republican incumbent, Gov. Bruce Rauner, who got 38.83 percent. Pritzker also defeated two third-party candidates, Conservative Party candidate state Sen. Sam McCann (4.23 percent) and Libertarian candidate Kash Jackson (2.41 percent).
Following last month’s veto session, which was after the Nov. 6 election Rauner lost to Pritzker by more than 15 points, Rauner was asked what the wide vote spread meant to him.
“I’m not a political theorist,” Rauner said. “I’ll say this about the election, I’m very scared for the people of Illinois.”
Rauner said the same party who poorly managed the state’s finances before he took office are back in firm control.
“The policies that have created the financial mess for the state of Illinois are now the policies that will be dominating completely without any resistance whatsoever in the state going forward,” Rauner said.
Not only did Pritzker, who self-financed his race with more than $170 million, take over the governor’s mansion for Democrats, but Democrats also took even more control of the state Legislature, and maintain control of the comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state and attorney general constitutional offices.
Asked for reaction to Rauner’s comments on Monday, Pritzker shared his thoughts.
“First of all the voters got out to vote and they spoke about what direction they’d like to see the state go,” Pritzker said. “I’m very proud of the campaign that we ran on the issues.”
Among other things, Pritzker said people voted for him because he said they know he’s going to create jobs.
“I think they voted for me because they believe that everybody should have health care,” Pritzker said. “And I think they voted for me because they know that we’ve got to make college affordable in this state and stand up for civil rights and so many other issues we talked about in the course of the campaign.”
Pritzker ran a campaign that included advocating for a progressive income tax. That would require a change to the state constitution’s flat tax to a tiered structure based on how much income someone makes. Pritzker has refused to provide any rates of what the progressive tax would look like, saying it’s up to the legislature. The Democrat also campaign in support of legalizing recreational cannabis, increasing the minimum wage, and "standing up for working-class families."
Rauner said his concerns are something Illinoisans have seen before.
“I think deficit spending, tax increasing, over regulating, self-dealing, the things that have gotten us in a mess are now going to be dominant,” Rauner said.
He’s not alone in his concerns.
Fitch Ratings noted in a recent report that the "return of single-party control to Springfield does not signal an end to the state’s credit challenges."
"Between 2003 and 2014, the state operated under single-party control with two different Democratic governors and sizable Democratic majorities in the General Assembly," the report said. "Over that span, the state’s credit quality deteriorated considerably. In that 11-year span, Illinois made various poor fiscal decisions."
Pritzker’s inauguration is Jan. 14 in Springfield.
Pritzker said Monday, confirming what Rauner said last month, that the Rauner administration is working well with the Pritzker team in the transition.