“We still have more to do”


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – JB Pritzker said on Tuesday he mapped a path to healthy public finances by arguing for a second term as governor of Illinois, but he carefully left open the pursuit of a Progressive income tax that would increase incomes by taking a larger share of the rich.

The Democrat underlined a balanced budget that keeps the line on most spending except schools, wiping out a monstrous pile of overdue bills and credit rating improvements on bonds despite voter rejection in the fall latest of the tax change while managing the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened 1.4 million and killed more than 23,000.

“I’m excited because the state is moving in the right direction, we want to keep going, we still have a long way to go,” Pritzker told The Associated Press in one of several interviews with Statehouse reporters a day after. having tweeted his 2022. re-election plans. “I believe in the people of our state and we have proven that the direction we are taking is the right one. And people are doing things to uplift their communities that we help support.

But he didn’t rule out a second try of what he calls “fair tax” because 97% of taxpayers would pay the same or lower taxes. He simply said there were no plans for a campaign until his current term expired in January 2023.

A Pritzker victory next year would mark the first time an Illinois governor has been re-elected since Rod Blagojevich in 2006. The 56-year-old multi-billionaire, a private investor and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, has defeated a crowded field of talented Democrats in 2018. He then defeated Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose popularity had plummeted due to a two-year budget stalemate with Democrats in the General Assembly, in one of the races for the most expensive governor post in US history.

Pritzker spent almost $ 150 million of his own money. With $ 33 million in his campaign account now, he has so far drawn opposition from little-known Republicans. including Senator Darren Bailey of Xenia, who made headlines last summer with legal challenges to Pritzker’s COVID-19 emergency orders; former State Senator Paul Schimpf; and Gary Rabine, a businessman from the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

“It’s a mess over there on the Republican side,” Pritzker said. “They have to sort this out. We’ll see where they end up.

Rabine noted that Pritzker raised taxes to pay for $ 45 billion infrastructure plan and this year, by eliminating corporate tax breaks it approved just two years ago, it has increased spending thanks to federal pandemic assistance and oversaw the first-ever population decline. state, according to the 2020 census. In a statement, Rabine, who also raised the issue of gun crimes, called on voters to “reject him and his radical agenda that is leading our state to unacceptable insolvency and violence “.

Billions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief loans, due in December 2023, will be prepaid under a deal reached in May between Pritzker and the legislative leaders, around the time they were trumpeting that the backlog of bills, $ 15 billion when Pritzker took office, is now $ 7 billion, the loan amount for the the action of the state comptroller is $ 3 billion, on the amount that can be paid over a 30-day cycle.

The budget that goes into effect on July 1 includes $ 2.5 billion in additional federal assistance, including $ 1 billion set aside by Democrats for capital construction projects that have been designed and are ready to go. revolutionary. This means Pritzker and many Democratic lawmakers could benefit from election year ribbon cutting photo ops in a shiny new facility.

His profile raised during his response to the pandemic, which for much of the past year included daily public briefings, Pritzker pledged to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated at a time when variants of the virus pose deadly risks and resistance to fire is increasing in part due to misinformation Pritzker has labeled “Fake Facebook”.

This will include incentives such as lotteries offering millions of dollars in prizes. to participants who received at least one vaccine, which debuted this month. Pritzker did not say whether those incentives had increased. participation, but he said vaccination is the only way to overcome the global health crisis.

“This is why we are doing everything we can and we have been doing it from the very beginning to communicate to people how important this is not only to their neighbors, their friends, but to themselves,” said Pritzker. “You want to keep yourself, your family and your community safe. “


Follow political writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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