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Governor JB Pritzker’s reelection campaign made a stop at Riverside Foods on Tuesday to highlight his election-year tax relief plan.

The governor pushed the shopping cart for Laura Pfeiffer, who was out buying groceries for her family.

Last month, the governor signed into law a one-year suspension of the sales tax on groceries to go along with a six-month pause in a gas tax increase and checks to some income tax filers and property tax owners.

“Laura has a family of four and so she’ll end up getting a check for $300 — two adults, $50 for each adult and $100 for each child,” Pritzker said.

Several U.S. states, including neighboring Iowa and Indiana, have passed permeant income tax cuts. But Governor Pritzker favors temporary relief for now.

“The truth is that we want to be very careful in Illinois,” Pritzker said. “We just balanced our budget the last three to four years.”

As he awaits the winner of the GOP primary, Pritzker is increasing appearances on the campaign trail while the Democratic Governors Association keeps close tabs on the GOP primary. The DGA is out with this TV commercial offering backhanded criticism of State Senator Darren Bailey.

“Republican Daren Bailey: An agenda too conservative for Illinois.”

WGN News asked Pritzker about who he sees on the opposing side come election time, questioning if he favors Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin over Bailey?

“It’s a mess over there. I’ll take on any of those Republicans,” Pritzker said. “We’ve got a real record to run of improving the finances of the state, creating jobs in the state, making sure that we’re taking care of the most vulnerable.”

Pritzker took aim at Irvin for limiting interaction with his opponents and the media.

WGN News asked Pritzker, “Do you think a candidate can win without using the old media and engaging his opponents?”

“No, and I think it’s because the voters won’t stand for it,” Pritzker said. “You’ve gotta answer questions. You’ve got to be available.” 

Republicans are hammering Pritzker for his handling of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. Thirty-six people died and an auditor general review blames the Pritzker administration for failing to respond to the seriousness of the outbreak.

WGN News asked: “It seems like voters didn’t forgive Governor Rauner for the Quincy Veterans Home in 2018. Why should they forgive you for what happened in LaSalle?”

“Let’s start with this is tragedy for the families, for obviously our soldiers, these are veterans who deserved the very best,” Pritzker said. “We were in the middle of a deadly pandemic. We jumped on the problem as fast as it became known to us and in then, in the wake of it, we investigated it and made sure that we knew what may have gone wrong in the home.”

Also, the governor has faced criticism for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

“It takes years to try to restore an agency like that and we have worked every single year to increase funding,” Pritzker said. “I might add the Republicans voted against funding it every year for the last three years.”

Violence also remains a front and center issue.

Last Saturday in Chicago’s Millennium Park, a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot prompting Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to impose a curfew on unaccompanied minors. 

WGN News asked: “If your 19-year-old and your 17-year-old called you up and said, ‘Hey dad, we want to hang out at the Bean on a Saturday night,’ would you be comfortable with them doing that?”

“Well, certainly watching what happened, the traffic, the death 16-year-old in that area gives one pause,” Pritzker said. “It is the responsibility of local law enforcement to do everything that they can to protect their downtown areas – that’s not just in Chicago, that’s in Rockford, it’s in Quincy, it’s in Carbondale, everywhere in the state.”

The fiscal year 2023 budget includes $1.4 billion to reduce crime and violence. 

With $100 million in his campaign account, Governor Pritzker is taking the election seriously. Despite the fact he does not have a serious primary opponent, Governor Pritzker spent about $10 million on campaign ads in the first quarter of the year.