Springfield, IL - Gov. JB Pritzker says Illinois is growing stronger each day with financial stability and lawmakers working together across the aisle. Those comments came in his State of the State address Wednesday afternoon.
Pritzker spent roughly half an hour acknowledging successes from last year and ideas to work on moving forward this session.
The Governor praised the General Assembly for helping him pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, legalize recreational marijuana and pass a bipartisan balanced budget. But Pritzker's biggest statement addressed the constant elephant in the Capitol: corrupt lawmakers and lobbyists.
"Root out the purveyors of greed and corruption"
"We have to work together to confront a scourge that has been plaguing our political system for far too long," Pritzker said. "We must root out the purveyors of greed and corruption - in both parties - whose presence infects the bloodstream of government."
Pritzker says protecting or tolerating the culture of corruption will no longer be acceptable. The Governor expects the bipartisan Ethics Commission to issue a report within the next eight weeks.
New Senate President Don Harmon is glad Pritzker has ethics reform as a high priority.
"I've been troubled by this visual of a legislator being in the General Assembly on a Friday and a lobbyist on Monday," Harmon explained. "I think it's an issue we can tackle. I'm glad the governor raised it and framed it the way he did."
The Governor also pitched his idea to pass a new clean energy plan, something discussed by lawmakers for several years.
"The old ways of negotiating energy legislation are over. It's time to put consumers and the environment first. I'm not going to sign an energy bill written by the utility companies," said Pritzker.
Property tax relief
While Pritzker mentioned the need for property tax relief, Republicans feel he was too vague on the topic.
"Home owners want to open their tax bill and see that it went down and not up," said Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). "I think the Governor needs to lead there and show a path forward for that."
It's essential that we address that this session and try to get to where the state funds its portion of education as its required in the Constitution and finds other ways to get property tax relief," Sen. Jill Tracy (R-Quincy) said.
Pritzker also pointed out he will continue to keep an open-door policy for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. He says the state is less divided on values and goals than some may think.