JB Pritzker: 2022 candidate for Illinois governor
Office sought: Illinois governor
Previous offices held:
Q: What do you consider the key to an effective working relationship between the governor's office and legislative leaders? If your party is not in the majority in the legislature, how will you work to make government operate effectively?
A: As Governor, one of my most important responsibilities is working closely with legislative leaders to get big things done and take action to support working families. I regularly speak and meet with legislative leaders and members of the legislature on both sides of the aisle to find common ground and determine the best way to make progress on my legislative agenda. Working together, we've been able to pass historic bipartisan legislation, including the Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan to rebuild roads and bridges and schools and airports, police and fire pension reform to reduce pension liability, cannabis legalization, and nation-leading climate legislation. I have maintained direct personal relationships with leaders, committee chairs and minority spokesmen, including in casual settings like dinners at the Governor's Mansion and more formal settings like joint press conferences. I plan to build upon these relationships if I have the opportunity to continue serving as Governor.
Q: Federal assistance has enabled the state to make important advances toward improving its budget. What will you do to ensure these advances continue when the federal aid is gone?
A: Working with the legislature, I have succeeded in using one-time, COVID-related federal assistance for one-time expenditures as our people and our economy recover from the pandemic. Painstaking work has been done in collaboration with the General Assembly over the last three and a half years to diligently and meticulously reverse the irresponsible budget decisions of past leadership. Under my leadership, responsible budgeting is the rule, not the exception, which is why we've balanced four budgets and reduced the structural deficit every year. Being fiscally responsible allowed us to deliver $1.8 billion in tax relief to taxpayers this year and permanently reduce taxes on 400,000 small businesses. It has led to six credit upgrades and elimination of the bill backlog and nearly all of the state's short-term debt. Operating expenditures in FY23 are budgeted at $2 billion below FY22 precisely because we assume the current year's revenues may not be as rosy as the prior year's revenues.
Q: To what extent are you happy or unhappy with the evidence-based model for education funding now in place in Illinois? How would you define "adequate" state funding for Illinois schools and what will you do to promote that?
A: The evidence-based funding model ensures that education funding is equitably directed toward schools, which is critical for serving every child in Illinois. Because of the State's improved fiscal outlook, this year's budget includes a $350 million increase to evidence-based funding, to a total of $7.9 billion in EBF appropriations. As a lifelong education advocate, I am committed to ensuring that Illinois is the best state in the nation to raise young children and that those children grow up to have bright futures and boundless opportunities. After years of neglect of appropriate state funding, Illinois is finally moving education funding in the right direction, and it's showing up in our schools. U.S. News and World Report now ranks Illinois' Pre-K-12 education as 6th in the nation and 1st among the nation's most populous states.
Q: Do you believe elections in Illinois are free and fair? What changes, if any, are needed regarding election security and voter access?
A: In a democracy, every citizen's vote matters and every citizen's vote counts. We need to make it as easy as possible for registered voters to cast their vote. That's why I've taken bold action here in Illinois to strengthen access to the ballot by expanding vote by mail, establishing permanent ballot drop boxes, and making Election Day a state holiday. We should take special care to assist our most vulnerable residents who may face barriers to voting in person -- the middle-class nurse or working-class delivery driver who needs to work on Election Day, our military service members, and those who may be infirm. And let's be clear about where Republicans stand on democracy: they are obsessed with the Big Lie and want to eliminate early voting and vote-by-mail.
Q: How well has Illinois responded to Supreme Court indications that it considers abortion, gay marriage and other social issues to be state, not federal, responsibilities? What if anything needs to be done in these areas and what would you do to make your vision come to pass?
A: I have advocated and spoken out for women's rights and LGBTQ+ rights my entire life. I will always work to ensure that abortion is safe, legal and accessible in Illinois. The U.S. Supreme Court continues to roll back fundamental rights: today it's abortion, and tomorrow it's likely to be birth control and marriage equality. It's up to the states to protect these important rights. Illinois has a unique history as a civil rights leader: we were first to ratify the 13th Amendment ending slavery and the 19th Amendment granting women's suffrage. Today, Illinois is the only Midwestern state protecting abortion, and we are one of two Midwestern states that codified marriage equality. And here in Illinois, we trust women to make their own healthcare decisions. Darren Bailey is not only anti-choice, but he believes that a ten-year-old rape victim should be forced to give birth, has regularly denigrated LGBTQ+ people, and has accepted the support of hate groups that espouse anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.