Gov. Pritzker talks ethics, corruption at State of the State address

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. JB Pritzker delivered the State of the State address Wednesday and said it was time to confront the scourge of public corruption.

Pritzker’s speech celebrated his legislative wings but the Democratic governor also used the occasion to call for an ethics reform.

“It’s no longer enough to sit idle while under-the-table deals, extortion or bribery persist,” Pritzker said.

A federal corruption investigation hovers over the capital. On Tuesday — the start of the legislative session — former State Senator Martin Sandoval plead guilty to taking bribes.

“A couple years ago we had a very real conversation in this building about the way to treat people with respect regardless of gender, regardless of role. I think we’re having the same conversation now about ethics,” State Rep. Mike Zalewski, (D-Chicago), said.

As a commission studies ethics changes, the governor is calling for lobbying reform — specifically, an end to the practice of elected officials working as paid lobbyists, and a revolving door policy to stop lawmakers from immediately lobbying their former colleagues.

The lobbying reforms could be a tough sell, many members work on the side as lawyers and lobbyists.

State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Matoon) said he’ll believe it when he sees it.

“If the governor wants this to happen in Springfield he’s going to have to do more than give it the brief lip service like he did in this speech,” Righter said.

Sen. Celina Villanueva, who took over Sandoval’s seat, said lobbying restrictions are a no-brainer.

“This is my only job. I’m not a lobbyist. I’m not doing anything part-time. I’m a full-time legislator and part of it is I don’t understand how people have time to be anything other than a legislator,” Villanueva said.

Republican leaders said they’ll deliver votes for ethics reform but they want the governor to prioritize property tax relief. They said a recent commission was a sham.

“If he really wants to confront property taxes it’s time to really leverage and rebuild Illinois’ economy. Our economy is in the doldrums compared to other states in this nation,” Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady said.

The governor wants the Ethics Commission’s report in the next eight weeks.

You can watch his entire speech in the player below. Read the full text of Pritzker’s full speech below, or view it here.

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