CHICAGO — Tuesday marked Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s 100th day in office. From minimum wage, to a mass shooting, the governor has dealt with a lot in the first three months of his term.
Pritzker said he’s energetic and enthusiastic after the past few months.
“I’m really excited about all we’ve gotten accomplished over the last 100 days. First of all, we passed the minimum wage, which is a big deal. one million people will come out of poverty as a result,” he said.
He’s accomplished a number of legislative priorities, but has big challenges ahead with the state budget. He said he campaigned with the slogan “Think big,” and said he intends to govern the same way.
Prizker has spent the first 100 days signing bills, touring disasters, consoling grieving families and making good on campaign promises all while shuttling back-and-forth between Springfield and Chicago, where his wife and two teenage children still live.
Other major legislation Pritzker has signed included a law requiring gun dealers to be licensed — aimed at slowing the illegal flow of guns into Illinois. He also signed into the law the “Tobacco 21” law, which requires people to be 21 to buy tobacco products. He also signed a collective bargaining law banning local governments from enacting anti-union right-to-work zones. All of those measures were vetoed by predecessor, Bruce Rauner.
“I think the people of Illinois were the rebuke to Rauner. The fact is that I ran on a platform about working families, about these issues and I’ve been accomplishing them one by one,” Pritzker said.
One other area he’s hoping to provide a stark contrast from Rauner is the state budget. Rauner’s standoff lasted two years, leaving the state with 15 billion dollars in unpaid bills.
This year’s budget presents a challenge, with Pritzker attempting to close a deficit but with several proposals for new revenue that includes the legalization of recreational marijuana and sports betting.
Pritzker has roughly four weeks to pass through a number of bills that will raise roughly $1.2 billion worth of revenue.
“Well, you know that for four years, virtually nothing got done about the state budget under Bruce Rauner, two years of a budget crisis, no budgets, so I put forward a bridge budget to make sure that we can get to the fair tax, which will come in November of 2020, and allow us to permanently overcome the challenges of the state budget,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker launched a campaign to replace its flat-rate income tax with a graduated system that taxes higher income at higher rates, which critics call a tax on job creators but Pritzker calls it a “fair tax.”
“Ninety-seven percent of people in Illinois will pay the same or less, there’s tax relief – property tax, child tax credit in there – and only 3% of people in Illinois will pay more,” he said.
Pritzker also has also called for extending the pension payment cycle – meaning the state would put $900 million less into the system this year — a move that some of his critics see as kicking the can down the road, yet again.
The last day of the legislative session is May 31.