* From Greg Hinz’s interview of Gov. Pritzker…
In a phone interview, Pritzker referenced only in passing some of last year’s accomplishments, from raising the state’s minimum wage to enacting a $45 billion capital plan and strengthening abortion rights. He said he’ll begin year two by focusing on a bit of advice from one of his GOP predecessors, Jim Edgar, to enact a balanced state budget—in Pritzker’s case, for the second year in a row.
“We’ve got to keep on with our progress,” he said. “We’ve got a lot more to accomplish.” […]
The governor was a little more specific on his graduated income tax amendment, again dangling the possibility of guaranteeing that a greater share of the proceeds will go to pay off the state’s huge pension debt. Pritzker has offered $200 million a year, but in our chat said, “It could be more.” […]
The governor also indicated that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and he are in agreement on proposed legislation designed to revive a proposed Chicago casino. Lightfoot needs some of the revenue from the gambling center to pay pension costs, and Pritzker needs some for debt service on his capital plan. The two officials “have a common understanding” about what should be in the bill, but they’re not the only interested parties in the Capitol, Pritzker said.
That’s good news about the casino. Those two absolutely must be on the same page for this to have any chance.
* From Bernie’s interview of Gov. Pritzker…
On property taxes, Republicans have complained that a task force on the issue hasn’t taken their ideas seriously.
“Many legislators on both sides regularly contact me to talk to me about their ideas for lowering property taxes,” Pritzker said, “so I have heard many of the ideas already.” He said he would be “happy to listen” to GOP proposals.
But, he said, he did a lot over the course of the year to alleviate the burden on local property taxes including raising state school funding. The pension consolidation bill for downstate police and fire pension systems also ultimately will save “billions of dollars,” he said. The savings are expected to come through better returns and less administrative costs when about 650 local pension funds are consolidated into two for investment purposes.
Despite some continued differences with Republicans, Pritzker said his ability to work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle “probably stands in stark contrast to the national stage, and to my predecessor.” He was referring to President Donald Trump and former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose battles with Democrats led to more than two years without a state budget in place.
The property tax burden is around $30 billion a year. He did a bit more than nibble around the edges, but lots more needs to be done.