Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park (Senate President): “I’ve long been troubled by the appearance of someone serving as a member of the General Assembly on Friday and becoming a lobbyist on Monday. That’s a problem and one we should tackle,” Harmon said. “You shouldn’t be a lawmaker one day and a lobbyist the next.”
“It’s refreshing to have a governor be the lead cheerleader for the state,” Harmon said. “We need a governor telling the rest of the world what’s going right in Illinois.”
Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago: “I will work with Vice-Chairperson Hunter, Minority Spokesperson DeWitte, my other Senate and House colleagues, and Governor Pritzker to create and implement an open, transparent, and accountable process for legislation that will maintain and improve our transportation and infrastructure system in an equitable way.”
Sen. Christina Castro, D-Elgin: “I’m optimistic that 2020 will be a very productive year. I was thrilled to hear Governor Pritzker express a desire to prioritize ethics reform and work toward passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act. I look forward to working closely with his office to ensure our mutual goals are achieved.”
*Castro is a member of the joint ethics commission and is the Senate sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago: “My main area of focus for this year will be on reimagining safety and justice in our communities, and in particular, ending cash bail. I’m confident that Governor Pritzker’s commitment to building a fair criminal justice system means he’ll be a strong ally in this fight, and I’m excited to see what we do next.”
Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora (Assistant House Majority Leader): “I share his enthusiasm for taking on college affordability, healthcare, property tax and pension reform, and government consolidation.” “And we must continue to fight against the culture of corruption at the Capitol. We have to rebuild the public’s trust and I expect the governor and General Assembly to put together a strong ethics reform package this year.”
Holmes looks forward to her new role as Assistant Majority Leader with Senate President Don Harmon’s team.
“We have a diverse caucus with a wide range of priorities, representing a diverse state, and I feel confident we can work together to address those priorities.” “I’m working on a range of legislation for this session, from insurance reform to addressing affordable healthcare and pre-authorization practices, to helping farmers deal with problems controlling herbicides, to my continuing efforts in animal welfare. It’s going to be a busy and productive year.”
Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton, D-Western Springs: “I was thrilled to hear that the governor shares my commitment to ending the culture of corruption in Springfield. Strengthening our ethics laws so that politicians can no longer profit as a result of their public service remains a top priority for me, so I am glad to have an ally in Gov. Pritzker.
“With the bipartisan ethics commission set to issue their policy recommendations this March, I am committed to doing all I can in the Senate to make sure those bills get to the governor’s desk. Together we will demand an honest, transparent Springfield.”
Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake: “My constituents are on the front lines of the property tax crisis. I hear stories every day about outrageously high property taxes and how they bring fiscal upheaval to families. I will continue to fight for and pass legislation that consolidates and eliminates ineffective units of government to curb the flow of wasteful government spending, and am excited our governor shares those concerns. Further, we must end the practice of incentivizing local governments to max out their levies. It is an important step to empower both local governments and taxpayers to be more fiscally responsible and efficient.
“I will work with the Pritzker administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight big utility companies from further profiting off families that are already being crushed by their high taxes. We need to finally develop a comprehensive plan to bring property tax relief to the people of Illinois and show them that we are on their side.
“I also fully support the governor’s efforts to end the days of corrupt self-serving politicians profiting off of their positions. Over the past several years I have made it a priority to hold elected officials in Illinois to the highest ethical standards, both via legislation and by calling out members of both parties for breaking their oath to Illinoisans. Our state’s history of corruption is a stain that will not easily be wiped away. Illinoisans deserve much better, and I will demand a more open and transparent state government and not stop until we have succeeded.”
Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago: “I appreciate Governor Pritzker reaffirming his commitment to improving public education in our state. It’s critical that we provide our students with every opportunity possible to succeed. Last year, we made great strides toward improving our state’s schools by investing to retain qualified teachers and I plan to continue that important work in 2020.
“I was also glad to hear the governor commit to reducing property taxes in our state. Illinois residents have been paying absurd rates for far too long and it’s time to get serious about changing the law to protect taxpayers. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly to find real solutions to this problem.”
Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria: “Ensuring that downstate continues to prosper is of the utmost importance. By passing meaningful property tax reform, creating jobs by implementing the $45 billion infrastructure plan and assisting small businesses ahead of future minimum wage increases we will provide fiscal stability for our communities. I look forward to working with Governor Pritzker as we continue our fight to increase economic security for downstate families."
Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights: “Gov. Pritzker’s emphasis on early childhood education and job creation sets the bar for legislators to build an economy that allows working people to succeed. I am committed to doing all I can in the Senate to pass the initiatives needed to build that framework.
“By investing in early education and job creation, Illinois is making a promise to working people that we will stand with them their entire lives and help them succeed.
“I was heartened to hear the governor call for meaningful ethics reform. The bipartisan commission on ethics will make recommendations later this year and I am looking forward to working with them and the governor to clean up Springfield.”
Sen. Laura Ellman, D-Naperville: “This year, I plan to focus on a number of issues, from combating climate change to quality higher education. I wish I had heard more specific proposals about the environment beyond clean energy, but after hearing him speak, I’m confident that the he will be an ally in making the state a national leader in protecting our natural resources and environment. Additionally, as I listened to the governor speak, his comments about ethics reform really struck a chord. We need a new level of transparency that surpasses any law we can implement. Our job is to live up to the expectations of the people we represent, and that’s what I plan to do and what every elected official should also be doing.”
Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield: “Gov. Pritzker’s call for action against the repellant actions committed by state lawmakers is a great step toward ending unethical behavior.” “I applaud the governor’s desire to fight corruption, and I will work diligently with my colleagues to ensure we pass real, lasting ethics reform this legislative session.”
“It’s more important than ever for us to strive for more transparency, greater disclosure and a higher standard of conduct.” “This commonsense legislation will call for lawmakers to work in the best interest of the people of Illinois by reporting if they have a conflict of interest on a legislative matter they are voting on.”
“Every person who serves in elected office should serve the people of Illinois – not themselves nor their wallets.” “I will continue to work with my fellow lawmakers and the governor to ensure we are all held to the highest ethical standards."
Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park: “We must continue to invest in what makes Illinois a great place to live. Our roads, schools and other critical infrastructure must be modernized. Last year, we took huge strides and I look forward to working with Governor Pritzker to continue rebuilding Illinois.
“In particular, I am pleased by his administration’s commitment to working on improving our energy infrastructure to ensure that carbon emissions are reduced and clean energy sources are increased. I am also encouraged by his commitment to investing in our children’s education. All our schools, from early childhood to community colleges, must be strong if we want a robust, well-trained workforce.
“Most importantly, I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass comprehensive ethics reforms. We should hold each other to the standards our constituents should expect of us.
“The next several years will be challenging. I am excited for the future of our state and ready to work to make it a reality.”
Sen. Rachelle Crowe, D-Glen Carbon: “Investing in our children early will undoubtedly improve their future opportunities, and I commend the governor for echoing his commitment to investing in early childhood education.
I also agree with Gov. Pritzker that we must change the culture of corruption in Springfield. By requiring more transparency in the legislative process, we’re creating a state government more people would be willing to trust. I respect the governor’s sincerity and look forward to what we can accomplish this legislative session.”
Sen. Curran (R-Downers Grove): “While the Governor did a good job of highlighting some of our state’s positives and recent successes, the agenda he laid out moving forward is disappointing. While the people of Illinois are overrun with news of indictments, investigations, and arrests of legislators, he narrowed his focus to reforms that do not address the Democratic culture of self-interest enabled by a legislative process wholly lacking in transparency.
“The Governor also completely avoided the topic of redistricting reform, which worries me that he may be backing off of his campaign promise to veto a partisan map. Taking the politics out of drawing legislative districts is the first step to ending the corruption that comes with entrenched power holders.
“One of the biggest issues facing families in my district and across the state is the out-of-control property tax burden. Governor Pritzker barely mentioned the issue and offered no real solutions at all. Property tax relief has to be at the top of everyone’s agenda this spring if we want to stop the exodus of families and jobs out of Illinois.
“In addition, his only proposal dealing with criminal justice does not address the alarming increase in violent crime, particularly carjackings, occurring in the suburbs, and is actually more likely to further this rising suburban epidemic.
“Finally, I am thankful for his leadership on protecting public health and clean air in my district, but the process our community endured battling Sterigenics highlighted deficiencies in our state EPA. I hope to work with the governor to ensure no other community has to endure what Willowbrook has been through these past two years.”
Sen. Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles: “Property taxes always seem to be a main issue that is touted, but yet again there is a lack of specific proposals that would actually lower homeowners’ property tax bills.” “As a member of the Property Tax Reform Task Force this past year, it was my hope that we would come out of that with a real opportunity to lessen the burden on Illinoisans. Instead, the task force ended their meetings without a roadmap to relief and no real solutions were presented today, leaving the General Assembly without direction.”
“The public should be outraged by the recent headlines involving misconduct from state lawmakers.” “It’s time to enact real ethics reforms and it is my hope that the Governor is serious about cracking down on government corruption.
“As we enter a new legislative session, we have a fresh opportunity to change the status quo. Instead of continuing to find new revenue streams that increase the tax burden on hardworking residents, we need to find ways to limit the out-of-control spending. Only then will Illinois be able to get on a path toward prosperity.”
Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods: “Lacking from today’s address was any mention of the need for redistricting reform, which an overwhelming majority of Illinoisans have called for in recent years. How can we expect to have an ethical legislature when legislators continue to pick their constituents instead of the other way around?
“As corruption lurks among the Capitol and makes headlines across the state, the public trust has reached an all-time low. And with no indication from the majority party or the Governor that we will take action this session on this issue, Illinoisans should take great concern that the status quo in Springfield will remain the same.”
Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet: “Governor Pritzker gave a good speech laying out his vision for Illinois. But, after the much vaunted summer/fall property tax relief task force empowered by the Democrat majorities imploded, I definitely would have liked to hear more specifics from the Governor on the issue of property tax relief for working families.
On ethics reform, I don’t see how you can have ‘ethics reform’ that doesn’t tackle changing the way legislative redistricting is done. As I see it, as long as legislators are drawing their own districts - for their own self-interest - you are going to continue to have problems. His speech didn’t have a single word devoted to Fair Maps and I think he missed a major opportunity. It is beyond time to give the people of Illinois their state back.”
Rep. Mike Madigan, D-Chicago (Speaker of the House): “I want to thank Governor Pritzker for offering a straightforward assessment of the state of our state. For the first time in a long time, we come into a legislative session with the opportunity to build on success. Last spring, we worked across the aisle to balance the budget; we enacted reforms backed by the state’s leading business groups that will help small and medium-sized employers grow; we created innovative new job training programs; we fought to rein in the cost of health care and prescription drugs; we took critical steps toward property tax relief; and we began the process of replacing Illinois’ unfair tax system with one that provides relief for the middle class while making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share.
“There is more work to be done though. Building on this progress means we must continue to make the tough decisions to balance the budget and pay down old bills, while ensuring critical services like our schools, senior care, career and vocational education, domestic violence shelters and breast cancer screenings are funded.
“While we have seen major steps forward, we have also seen the good work of the many honest members of this Legislature be overshadowed too often by the wrongdoing of individuals who have sought to put themselves first. It’s clear that we must take significant steps within the coming weeks to restore confidence in state government. But let’s be clear: bad actors will always try to game the system and break the law. We must commit to sending the clearest sign the game is over and every step will be taken to prosecute.
“House Democrats stand ready to work with Governor Pritzker and our Republican colleagues to balance our budgets, enact lobbying and ethics reforms, make health care more affordable, expand educational opportunities to build an economy that works for all, and continue building a stronger Illinois.”
Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha: “When Governor Pritzker gave his first State of the State last year, he talked about his bold optimism. Yet, despite that optimism and his party’s complete control of state government, his State of State Address did a lot of finger-pointing for where blame belongs for Illinois’s problems.”
“Out-of-control property taxes, a growing preponderance of Democrat legislators under investigation, democrat-branded unfair maps and unfair taxes, and despite all of this, their fingers are pointed outward and not inward. With his party’s super-majority control over State Government operations, when will Democrats take ownership of these problems they have created.”
“I said it last year and I’ll say it again, we cannot continue to burden the hard-working people of Illinois for the problems their politicians created. The reality is fewer and fewer Illinoisans are being asked to pay for more and more with less and less.”
(Interview with Swanson, discussing agriculture, property taxes, and ethics):
“He didn’t talk about the agriculture community whatsoever.”
Property taxes: “Farmers own property, a lot of property. And no discussion there of how he’s going to fix that.”
“The fingers didn’t point at us.” “The reason property taxes are high isn't because of local government for the most part, it's because of what state government is imposing.” “The $15/hour minimum wage, what is that doing to the local government -- those counties that now have to raise their wages? The only way they can get that money is by raising property taxes.”
“The ethics was good to hear.” “He used the word ‘urgent’ when he talked about ethics.”
Bipartisan ethics reform: “Coming from the boss, I hope that does ring well with everyone.” “We’re all in favor of doing something. It’s just we have to come to agreement of what that something is.”
Rep. David Welter, R-Morris: “I am cautiously optimistic about the tone the Governor set today with respect to the need to work together on a bipartisan basis. Our state is not growing. Since, 2014, our population has shrunk by more than 150,000 people. That is more than the entire population of the City of Joliet. The most impactful thing we can do to reverse this trend is work together to deliver meaningful, lasting property tax relief for Illinois families and job creators. Springfield has studied and talked about this issue long enough. We have an opportunity this year to actually get it done. That is the goal I am working toward. I extend the hand of cooperation to the Governor and lawmakers from both parties as we put our noses to the grindstone and work on making Illinois a more affordable place to live, work, raise a family and retire.”
Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria: “The Governor’s speech was brimming with good intentions, but the State of the State Address was short on ideas for economic growth. Population loss, employers moving and a census looming that will likely result in less federal representation for Illinois, yet no solid ideas were presented for growing our jobs and population.”
“People and employers are leaving because of high property taxes, seemingly systemic public corruption and the dire need for fair representation and against giving politicians a blank check for higher spending. All of these issues could easily be fixed with Democrat votes alone, as Democrats have a supermajority in both chambers and control of the Governor’s office. Yet, even as Democrats refuse to provide this much-needed relief, Republicans stand ready to work together to improve the climate for job-creators, reduce taxes on overburdened taxpayers and re-make Illinois into a great place to work, live and play.”
Rep. Brad Stephens, R-Rosemont: “I appreciate the Governor’s bipartisan emphasis on reducing our state’s excessive property taxes and growing the economy. Illinois is taxing people out of their homes. These taxes hurt seniors and it is exacerbating the state’s out-migration problem. The legislature needs to do everything in its power to lower the property tax burden, create jobs, and grow the economy, so everyone in our communities prosper. If we work together, we can lower our state’s sky-high property taxes, create good-paying jobs, and provide long overdue relief for Illinois families and small businesses. I look forward to working together to get the job done, and will continue to work with any elected official to lower property taxes and create jobs for the people of Illinois.”
Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield: “This year we have seen too many cases of corruption cracking the foundation of our government. While I appreciate the Governor’s support today on ethics reform, there is still much more to be done to root out this culture of corruption. We can’t pass enough laws to make people do the right thing, but to stop influence peddling, we can adopt term limits and redistricting reform to prevent absolute power and keep lawmakers in check.
Beyond real ethics reform, Illinois’ pension system remains our state’s biggest burden. Last year we made progress on pension reform efforts, but we need to build on this momentum to secure our state’s long-term future. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues, including those across the aisle to accomplish this.”
Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva: “Today the Governor expressed his support for the ethics reform proposals brought forward by our caucus, and I am pleased to support that effort. The culture of corruption has infiltrated our government and has impeded our progress for growth for far too long. Only real ethics reform will steer us forward, restore the public trust in government and allow us to work through our state’s many fiscal challenges.
Last year we made one stride forward in helping our taxpayers with a pension consolidation effort. This year we need to go further. Our pension systems are complex and will require bipartisan work to find the right solution—but it’s one that our taxpayers and businesses deserve. We cannot afford to lose any more of them.”
Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport: “There is no doubt, JB Pritzker is a skilled politician. He would have to be that slick to convince so many Illinoisans that the problems his party created are without instead of within. After repeatedly increasing your taxes to some of the highest in the nation, pushing jobs and industries out of Illinois and leading one of the largest job-growth programs for self-dealers in U.S. history, Illinois Democrats now want to convince taxpayers that they can lead us out of the crisis they created. Unbelievable.”
“I am focused on an agenda on excising the ethical rot that has infested Illinois emanating from the Northeast corner of our State, working to provide real, meaningful property tax relief for hardworking families, and empowering Illinois voters to select their politicians instead of their politicians selecting their voters through unfair legislative mapping.”
“If Democrats want meaningful, equal partners in addressing those issues, they will find eager support from Illinois House Republicans. They will not, however, find willing co-conspirators to their continued mismanagement.”
Rep. Mark Murphy, R-Springfield: “Illinois still needs significant reforms to address not only our fiscal issues, but the culture of corruption that has plagued government at all levels. This can only happen when we work together. The desperately needed, job creating reforms that happened last year are the proof that this works.
“If the Governor is serious about using this same bipartisan mentality to address corruption, then we must hold him to his commitment to embrace Republican reform ideas that he mentioned today. As I’ve said before, whether it’s my common-sense HB 818 to end legislator pay loopholes, or some other bill, I stand ready to work together to get long-overdue ethics reform done. There cannot be anymore weak, limited action this spring.”
Rep. Chris Miller, R-Oakland: “Illinois still needs significant reforms to address not only our fiscal issues but also the corruption that has plagued our government. This week we saw the first conviction of an elected official—the result of the ongoing federal investigations into public corruption in Illinois. To restore the trust in our government, we need greater ethics reform now more than ever. I am optimistic the Governor will stand by his word today to make this a priority.
To that end, redistricting reform is one clear way we can help root out this culture of corruption and keep elected officials in check. Doing so will not only restore trust in our government but provide the future Illinois families deserve.”
Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena: “While I applaud the Governor sanctioning ethics reform, specifically a revolving door ban I have been advocating for years, he did not mention the elephant in the room, Speaker Madigan. As long as he remains in power and those that support him continue to prop him up, Illinois will continue its steady drip of corruption. The current system that allows Speaker Madigan to draw the legislative maps is what keeps his party safely in power, and that complacency breeds corruption and lazy lawmaking. Speaker Madigan represents the old way of doing things, he represents 20th century politics, and we need 21st century solutions to property tax reform, pension reform, ethics reform, and the other major issues plaguing Illinois.”
Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield: “I was glad to hear the Governor acknowledge and show a willingness to take up some Republican ethics reform ideas. The irreparable damage being done to our state by inaction on this issue cannot be delayed any longer.
“However, if the Governor is really serious about addressing unethical behavior and corruption, then he needs take a strong stance in support of fair maps to finally put an end to gerrymandering. Nearly 3 out of 4 Illinoisans support fair maps and the census is underway, which means redistricting is on the way. He has publically said he won’t sign a gerrymandered legislative map and supports fair maps. Now is the time to prove it.
“The main issue that I don’t think we heard enough substantive ideas about is addressing economic development and job growth downstate. The Governor likes to tout that he has been working hard to improve opportunities downstate, but the realities don’t match the words. Illinois’ outmigration has been felt most downstate, while the majority of opportunities have favored Chicago. Downstate has a wealth of resources to be our economic engine, but the Governor has to turn his talk into action to free up the potential of downstate.”
Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington: “These have been top priorities of mine for years.” “Investigations, arrests, and indictments of public officials have hung over Illinois like a dark storm cloud for far too long. Last fall, my Republican colleagues and I proposed a package of reforms to hold elected officials accountable, and today the Governor signaled that he is ready to work with us on some of our proposals.”
“I was also pleased to hear the Governor’s willingness to work with us to provide families property tax relief, and to help create jobs. We must deliver to stop the exodus of families and businesses from our state. It would appear that the only person now standing in our way of achieving these critical goals in the House is Speaker Madigan.”
Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine: “High property taxes and the burden they continue to place on our residents and businesses is a huge concern for me going into this legislative session. The property tax relief task force did not deliver its report on time nor provide substantial reform proposals, however, I will continue to advocate for my constituents and the state’s taxpayers as a whole.
Those of us in Cook County just received the first installment notice of our annual property tax bills, and unsurprisingly, most of us received another sizeable increase. This is especially aggravating as Governor Pritzker approved last year nearly two dozen tax increases, in part, to fund a tainted $45 Billion infrastructure bill. When the Governor and the legislature fail to make spending reforms their first priority, taxpayers continue to get hit from one side to the next.
Furthermore, the public shouldn’t be duped into thinking that a new graduated income tax scheme will provide meaningful property tax relief. Failure to produce real spending and policy reform and/or government consolidation will make taxpayers and all citizens—regardless of income level—suffer more in the end. Illinois must grow its tax base of individuals at all income levels and businesses of all sizes. It shouldn’t try to pick winners and losers with misguided ‘revenue enhancements’ that just end up driving more people and businesses to pick up stakes and re-locate.”
Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego (Assistant House Minority Leader): “Families here in the Fox Valley are saddled by some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Illinois continues to lag in job creation and economic growth, doing a disservice to families who want to live, work or retire in our great state. We can do better. If we work together in a bipartisan way and compromise – just like we did last year to pass a balanced budget and job-creating reforms – I know we can tackle our state’s sky-high property tax problem and create more Illinois jobs for Illinois families. I’m ready to get to work and find areas of common ground with the Governor so that we can make Illinois a more affordable place for families to live and for small businesses to grow and thrive.”
Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst: “Illinois deserves a government they can be proud of.
While I'm glad the Governor in his State of the State said he wants to extend his hand on key issues, those will be empty words if his own party keeps their iron grip on the House process to stop reforms on property taxes and ethics. We can accomplish more together than we can apart, but true bipartisanship requires equal participation and equal effort, and equal respect for those voices you disagree with. And to date, we've seen a lot more support for political insiders and special interest groups and enabling the culture of corruption than honest tightening of belts, paying our bills, and doing our best for the people in Illinois.
Governor Pritzker said today it is no longer acceptable or tolerable to have our culture of corruption. He hasn't called for the resignation of the man who has been the enabler in chief for the last 40 years.
I continue to stand ready and willing to work with any lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – that is serious in their efforts to end corruption, lower property taxes, and put Illinois on a sound fiscal path. Illinois government works best when it supports and is accountable to regular people working hard for their families, friends, faith, and communities.”
Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore: “I appreciate that Governor Pritzker is making property tax relief and job creation a top priority. Those have been two of my top priorities in office and I’m hopeful we can come together to achieve impactful relief for our property tax payers. While we may not agree on every issue or approach, there is room to find common ground on both of these issues of importance to local families. I was pleased to hear we will have the Governor’s support for the ethics reforms we’ve been seeking for many years. We need to clean up Illinois.
The pro-business and data center incentives we passed last year have spurred vigorous interest in the DeKalb area that will bring jobs and prosperity to our region. If we work together in a bipartisan way and compromise – just like we did last year to pass a balanced budget, job-creating reforms and historic investments in our state’s infrastructure – I know we can find solutions to the cost of rising property taxes, create good-paying jobs, and root out corruption in Illinois. That work begins in earnest today.”
Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee: “While we appreciate that Governor Pritzker signaled his support for a small number of Republican-sponsored ethics reform proposals, we believe there is more that needs to be done to root out corruption in state government once and for all.
There is a black cloud over Springfield, and it seems we learn of new developments regarding an ongoing federal investigation into corruption and self-dealing in state government on a weekly basis. I have filed dozens of real and substantive ethics reform bills, pension reform legislation, and bills to provide property tax relief year after year that stay completely frozen out by the Speaker to languish and die in his tightly controlled Rules Committee.
The Democratic majority thrives in the current corrupt status-quo that they have created over four decades. They freeze out real reform bills and treat the taxpayers of Illinois as their personal piggy banks, choosing to protect a well-connected chosen few over doing what is best for the all the people of the State of Illinois.
It is time to finally deal with reality and focus on working together to address our unsustainable and massive pension disaster that grows larger every day. I have proposed a five-step pension reform plan that will fix this disaster in an ethical and fair way, but to do this we need full bi-partisan support for this reform to become a reality.
During this session, I plan to advocate for real solutions to the pension crisis. I have a 5-step plan to address out of control property taxes, a proposal to create a 1% percent hard cap, and end the unethical practice of letting legislators draw their own district boundaries and choose their constituents every ten years through a broken remap process.
Two months ago, I called on the General Assembly to support legislation ending the practice of legislators moonlighting as lobbyists. I applaud the Governor for joining me in this common sense reform.
With our state’s terrible outmigration problem, we need to do everything we can to lower our property tax burden and create jobs so our communities will thrive. I will continue to work with any lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who will work to end corruption, lower property taxes, and create jobs for the people of Illinois.”
Rep John Cabello, R-Machesney Park: “Let’s be honest – the only reason the Illinois economy is doing so well is because of President Trump’s economy benefiting families across the country. Working class families in Illinois are now paying twenty new or increased taxes and fees in the one year since JB Pritzker became Governor. His speech today demonstrated how out of touch our multi-billionaire Governor is with the working families who have to pay for his agenda. While it was refreshing to hear the Governor acknowledge today that property taxes are too high, his actions so far have failed to back up his words. He has raised taxes on working families time and again, but has not delivered on property tax relief.
I am willing to work with the Governor if he’s serious about actually making property tax relief a reality and rooting out corruption in Illinois. In the meantime, I will continue to speak out for the taxpayers of our state who are fed up with higher taxes and false promises.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford: “While I appreciate that Governor Pritzker signaled his support for some ethics reform proposals, I believe there is more that needs to be done to root out corruption in state government once and for all. What has been happening in Springfield is outrageous and is not tolerated by the taxpayers. We learn of new developments on a weekly basis about the ongoing federal investigations into corruption and self-dealing in state government. We have seen elected officials arrested, indicted and resign due to alleged involvement in criminal activities. We need stricter ethics reforms to keep our state’s elected officials in check and we need redistricting reform to clean up our election process.
One thing the Governor said I agreed with was his emphasis on reducing our state’s sky-high property taxes and creating jobs. With Illinois’ terrible out-migration statistics growing year after year, we need to do everything we can to lower our property tax burden, hold the line on any further tax increases, and create more jobs immediately, so our communities can thrive. I will continue to work with any lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who will work to root out corruption, lower property taxes, and create jobs for Stateline area families.”
Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City: “The Governor is acting like it is an act of political courage to take more money from taxpayers and waste it on unsustainable and out of control government spending.” “The political class may deem a budget with a $3 billion hole a ‘balanced budget,’ but the views of political insiders are not the stark realities of the Governor’s fiscally irresponsible budget. Catering to insiders and career politicians is the opposite of real political courage. That is not leadership. That is pandering. That is an unwillingness to make tough decisions. That is the status quo and the type of decisions that have created Illinois’ financial mess in the first place.”
“Our jobs numbers are a reflection of a shrinking workforce – not dynamic growth in new jobs.” “As long as we continue to raise taxes, spend money we do not have and fail to address the growing pension deficit, we will continue to lose people and our economy will continue to shrink. Illinois should be a leader economically in the Midwest. Instead, our state continues to lag behind. It is embarrassing and it needs to change. Governor Pritzker demonstrated today how out of touch he is with the working families. These are the people who have to pay for his agenda. Yes, he acknowledged that taxes are too high, but he took no responsibility for the role has played in raising them.”
“One of the few advantages of owning a business in Illinois is that we have abundant and inexpensive supplies of energy which has helped us keep a solid manufacturing base.” “If the Governor has his way, these advantages will disappear, and we lose a lot of good paying jobs in Illinois. The Governor’s far-left policies will hurt small business owners and cost real people their livelihood. I will continue to oppose the Governor’s radical environmental agenda.”
“If the Governor was serious about pension reform, he would support my plan that protects working-class pensions while respecting taxpayers and making the system sustainable for future generations.”
“The number of legislators being charged with federal crimes is astounding and it appears there is more to come.” “Self-dealing and influence peddling are a serious problem and it is not going to be solved by a task force, tough talk or a few token pieces of legislation. It is only going to be solved with real, meaningful reform to go at the heart of the problem. The time for talk on anti-corruption measures is past. It’s time for action.”
Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville: “I agree with Governor Pritzker that it is long past time for the Speaker and the Democrat majority to get serious about ethics reform after ignoring it for decades. Now is the time to end government corruption, stop legislative gerrymandering and ensure the integrity of our voting systems.
“Our state spending and debt are spiraling out of control. Illinois Democrats’ answer is more taxes and zero spending reform. Their tax increases keep pushing people out of the state. We must rein in our spending and cut property taxes to stop our population loss and grow our economy.
“Illinois is a great State, but our growth and economy is lagging the entire country. I hope that everyone remembers that the State of Illinois received an additional $1.4 billion in tax revenue last year because federal taxes were lowered. We are expected to see another $800 million this year. All of this should be going to pay down old bills and cover our pension liability, not to new programs and expanded government.
"The Governor stated, 'Illinois is great because our people are great.' Illinois government has to get out of their way and let them do great things!"
Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna: “I agree that Illinois is great because our people are great and we do have a choice on how we tell our story.”
“However, I am disappointed that there was no discussion on our number one economic driver—agriculture. There was no mention of Illinois’ outmigration, the upcoming census or re-drawing fair legislative boundaries. Growth in Illinois cannot be driven by radical policies that do not address our structural and political environment.
“Furthermore, I am disappointed that the only solution to every problem is to increase taxes without addressing the high property tax burden on Illinois families. Illinois does need an agenda of opportunity and I hope Northwest Illinois is part of that agenda.
Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville: “I hear all of the time from people who are either planning on leaving Illinois or are actively considering it.” “People are tired of the bad policies and the lack of concern for what is happening in Illinois and they are voting with their feet. Illinois has had positive job growth, but this is a direct result of the Trump economy. The Illinois economy could have seen even more growth had our state government done a better job managing the budget and the state economy.”
“Illinois has the highest combination of state local taxes in the country.” “It is a perfect storm of high taxes, bad economic policies and a far-left social agenda that are driving people out of the state in droves. Instead of addressing these problems, the only thing I heard today is the Governor’s commitment to do more of the same. It is no wonder that so many people are interested in the process to separate from Chicago.”
“Just yesterday we had another former legislator plead guilty to felony corruption charges. When will enough be enough?” “It sounds like the Governor is interested in real reform – not just press release fodder but we will see. We need to root out the culture of corruption in Springfield once and for all.”
“We are all in agreement on what the problems are but there are vast differences on the solutions.” “The reason we do not see the Governor outlining any specific ideas on how to fix pensions or how to lower property taxes is because the only we can legitimately accomplish these goals would be to reduce spending and the Democrat majority in the House and the Senate along with the Governor have no interest in meaningful spending reforms.”
Rep. Amy Grant, R-Wheaton: “Some of the highest property taxes in the nation have plagued Illinois families for years. I appreciate that Governor Pritzker prioritized property tax relief and job creation in his speech today, but the Governor needs to work with Republicans to enact real reforms. Our government cannot afford another phony property tax relief task force. If we work together in a bipartisan way and compromise, then we can tackle our sky-high property tax problem and provide long-overdue relief for Illinois families and small businesses.
“As the Governor referenced in his speech, an example of this bipartisan success was the recent consolidation of police and firefighter pensions to lower property taxes in Illinois, and while this is a great first step, we must go further. We need to address the pension mess in Illinois by reforming the entire system.
“I was also glad the governor concluded his speech by addressing the black cloud hanging over the Capitol since federal investigations began to unravel last year. As a freshmen legislator who served on the property tax task force, I witnessed what little task forces actually accomplish. I fear his commission on ethics will also fail to produce substantive results. Real, lasting ethics reform must be a priority this legislative session.”
ORGANIZATIONS AND TRADE ASSOCIATIONS
Illinois Manufacturers Association: “Manufacturers across Illinois have demonstrated a commitment to working with Governor Pritzker and lawmakers to enact policies that move our state forward, create jobs and invest in our workforce. Last year, we worked together to enact an historic infrastructure bill, invest in apprenticeships, and commit to research & development which is the lifeblood of manufacturing innovation,” said Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “We look forward to partnering with the Governor to further strengthen our education system and reduce the overwhelming property tax burden on Illinois businesses and families. However, moving to a graduated income tax system and hiking energy costs on businesses that create jobs and drive our economy is the wrong approach.”
Illinois Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Todd Maisch: "Governor Pritzker presented a positive view of his first year in office, much of which the Chamber agrees with. The Governor embraced pro-growth tax incentives - including the Chamber’s data center incentive legislation - championed by pro-business legislators. He has committed to a professional economic development program, greater investment in workforce development and expansion of access to advanced technology for small businesses.
While bipartisan gains are welcomed by the employer community, we need to remind policymakers of the negative impacts of misguided policies enacted in 2019. Small businesses will struggle mightily with the burden of a $15 minimum wage. The wage is unfairly set at $15 regardless of geography or wage rates that vary greatly in our diverse state. Also, the proposed progressive income tax eliminates our current, true Fair Tax. It is already having a chilling effect on employers’ willingness to invest in Illinois.
A focus on our greatest job producers, small business, must be a priority in 2020 to balance the negative effects of 2019 policies. The Governor has demonstrated a good understanding of issues that impact small businesses, but still has pursued detrimental legislation. 2020 represents an opportunity to offer them more support with bipartisan policies to move our state forward.
Think Big Illinois, Executive Director Quentin Fulks: “In the year since Governor Pritzker took office, there have been giant strides toward putting Illinois back on track. Because of the hard work of the Governor and the legislature last Spring, our state has enacted a number of critical measures to help our state. From raising the minimum wage to passing the most equity-centric marijuana legalization bill in the country, from getting the Fair Tax on the ballot to approving an historic investment into our state’s infrastructure, it’s clear Illinois’ working families are finally being put first.
“Yet, as Governor Pritzker said today, there is still so much more work to be done. A cloud of corruption has sat above our state politics for years, and it’s time we pass substantive ethics reform to restore public trust and confidence in our elected officials.
“Families across the state have been faced with high property taxes for too long, and we must take action to lift this burden that’s stifled opportunity for too many Illinoisans. Think Big Illinois is hopeful that the legislature can work to give property tax relief to those who need it, as well as try to address our state’s pension crisis. While the recent public safety pension consolidation legislation was an important step in the right direction, we need to pass comprehensive pension reform to help create a more stable fiscal future for our state.
“Think Big Illinois is encouraged to hear Governor Pritzker’s continued focus on ensuring diversity and inclusion in our government and making Illinois a leader in early child education. By investing in Illinois’ children, we are also investing in our state’s future. We must also build on the efforts made in the last year to reform our criminal justice system, and the legislature should act swiftly to pass Governor Pritzker’s proposed plans to end cash bail for low-level crimes and reduce mandatory sentencing.
“Illinois still faces a number of challenges, and Think Big Illinois commends Governor Pritzker for the plans he laid out today to address them. We are confident that our state can build on the progress made in the last year to make Illinois a better place for all who call it home, and Think Big Illinois is ready to do what we can to help make that a reality.
Illinois Republican Party, Chairman Tim Schneider: “In his State of the State speech today, Governor Pritzker talked about his desire to reach across the aisle and find common ground to solve the enormous challenges facing Illinois. Republicans in Illinois stand ready to work in good faith with the Governor, but we will not solve the immense challenges we face by pushing the same tax-and-spend policies that created the mess in Illinois.
So far, Governor Pritzker’s priorities have been focused on adding to our financial crisis, not solving it. His priorities have made life more expensive for working families in Illinois, not more affordable. And in the midst of a mass exodus of people fleeing our state, Governor Pritzker’s priorities will only serve to speed up our decline as small businesses shutter, property taxes keep rising, and middle class wallets are hit up time and again.
Illinois is drowning under a tsunami of legal and illegal public corruption. I urge the Governor to follow through on his promises and act with leadership on substantive ethics reforms and non-partisan legislative redistricting. With three months to go on a Fair Maps Amendment deadline, nothing less than urgent action by the Governor is acceptable.
But there is one person who stands in the way of these critical changes. Mike Madigan has slow-walked ethics reform and refuses to support the non-partisan redrawing of legislative maps. Now is the time for Pritzker to show Madigan that the status quo in Springfield must change. I hope the Governor has the courage to do so.”
Environmental Defense Fund, Senior Attorney Christie Hicks: “EDF is encouraged by Gov. Pritzker’s call for clean energy legislation in today’s State of the State. We believe passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act is the best path to creating jobs, protecting the health and wellbeing of Illinoisans across the state and ensuring economic benefits for all. Time is of the essence, especially now that federal regulators have tried to impose an obsolete system on Illinois that will force customers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more for an energy mix that favors polluters.”
Illinois Justice Project, Director Sharone Mitchell Jr.: Gov. Pritzker is right. Ending cash bail should be the first step on the path to a fairer criminal justice system.
It makes no sense to require people charged with crimes - innocent until proven guilty - to remain in jail because they can’t afford to pay for their freedom. And it makes no sense to force poverty stricken families to come up with money to gain their loved one’s freedom.
After considering each person’s risk to public safety and the likelihood that person will return for court dates, judges should determine who remains in jail pre-trial and who returns to their homes and jobs. Today, too often that decision is based on the size of the accused’s bank account.
We look forward to working with Gov. Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Stratton and legislators on the development of a replacement for money bond. By ending the practice of money bond, once and for all, we can make Illinois safer, more just and more equitable.
Illinois Primary Health Care Assocation, President and CEO Jordan Powell: “Today, Governor Pritzker delivered his second annual State of the State address, reaffirming his commitment to a safer, healthier and more fiscally stable future for Illinois.
We commend the Governor for leading the bipartisan effort to secure last year’s capital bill that promises historic levels of investment in the state’s infrastructure, including $50 million for building, renovating, and repairing community health centers.
As the Governor prepares to introduce his fiscal year 2021 budget, IPHCA will continue to advocate for greater access to high-quality, affordable health care. Our community health center members provide integrated medical, behavioral, and dental care in nearly every community throughout the state and they have a demonstrated ability to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. In fact, they save our state’s Medicaid program nearly $2 billion every year by keeping people out of emergency rooms and reducing their need for more costly healthcare services.
IPHCA recognizes the need to balance our state’s budget and make greater investments into infrastructure, healthcare, social services, and education. For this reason, IPHCA supports the graduated income tax proposal that will provide the revenue necessary to make these investments
We look forward to the continuing to work with the Governor, his Administration, and the General Assembly to continually increase access to high-quality, comprehensive care in communities across Illinois.
Illinois Environmental Council, Executive Director Jen Walling: “At a time when the Trump administration is taking major steps backward on climate, Governor Pritzker’s commitment to signing community-driven energy legislation -- not a bill written by big utility companies -- is a refreshing and much-needed departure from the old way of doing things.
“We are grateful to have the governor as a partner in the fight to combat the climate crisis, which may be the greatest challenge of our time. The Clean Energy Jobs Act, or CEJA, will make Illinois a national leader in addressing climate change by setting us on a course to eliminate carbon from the electricity sector by 2030 and achieve 100% clean energy by 2050. We look forward to working with Governor Pritzker and the bill sponsors to get this done this session.”