Illinois took a sharp turn this week in a new direction. That became clear pretty quickly.
JB Pritzker took the oath of office to become the state’s new governor.
The Democrat enjoys solid majorities that should be able to push his agenda through the House and Senate.
Budget stalemates plagued the administration of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.
Pritzker used part of his inaugural address to clarify his intent to change the state’s income tax system.
“Our regressive tax system — including property taxes and sales taxes — currently has the middle class paying nearly double the rate that the wealthy pay. That’s not fair and it doesn’t pay our bills,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.
Pritzker outlined several priorities and got to work by issuing executive orders and signing legislation after taking office.
One order clears the way for state employees to get their step raises that were put on hold during the Rauner administration.
He signed legislation that requires gun dealers to be licensed by the state.
And he promises to work with lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.
It’s unlikely Illinois will see a budget stalemate with the Democrats in complete control.
The governor has the opportunity to get a lot of what he wants done, but it depends on how well he works with state lawmakers.
Two people who have a say in that joined 4 The Record for a conversation — Democratic State Representative Mike Halpin and Republican Representative Tony McCombie.
Halpin and McCombie shared their mostly positive first impressions of what we’ve seen already this week and how it sets the tone for the rest of the session.
One executive order Governor Pritzker signed this week prevents state agencies from asking job applicants about their salary history.
Legislation could also be adopted to make it apply to all companies doing business in Illinois.
It’s billed as a way to close the gender pay gap.
McCombie and Halpin discussed how effective that can be.
Pritzker gave 20 positions in his administration big pay raises.
The salary increases will be paid out of his own pocket through an organization he set up for it.
There’s nothing in the law that says this can’t be done, but we asked McCombie and Halpin how worried they are about the precedent this sets and the possible slippery slope that similar organizations running on anonymous donations can do the same thing — perhaps working against the public interest.
View the full conversation in the video above.
Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.