Suburban legislators' reactions to Pritzker's speech
Sen. John Curran of Downers Grove: "While the governor did a good job of highlighting some of our state's positives and recent successes, the agenda he laid out moving forward is disappointing. While the people of Illinois are overrun with news of indictments, investigations, and arrests of legislators, he narrowed his focus to reforms that do not address the Democratic culture of self-interest enabled by a legislative process wholly lacking in transparency.
"The governor also completely avoided the topic of redistricting reform, which worries me that he may be backing off his campaign promise to veto a partisan map. Taking the politics out of drawing legislative districts is the first step to ending the corruption that comes with entrenched power holders.
"One of the biggest issues facing families in my district and across the state is the out-of-control property tax burden. Governor Pritzker barely mentioned the issue and offered no real solutions at all. Property tax relief has to be at the top of everyone's agenda this spring if we want to stop the exodus of families and jobs out of Illinois.
"In addition, his only proposal dealing with criminal justice does not address the alarming increase in violent crime, particularly carjackings, occurring in the suburbs, and is actually more likely to further this rising suburban epidemic.
"Finally, I am thankful for his leadership on protecting public health and clean air in my district, but the process our community endured battling Sterigenics highlighted deficiencies in our state EPA. I hope to work with the governor to ensure no other community has to endure what Willowbrook has been through these past two years."
Sen. Don DeWitte of St. Charles: "Property taxes always seem to be a main issue that is touted, but yet again there is a lack of specific proposals that would actually lower homeowners' property tax bills." "As a member of the Property Tax Reform Task Force this past year, it was my hope that we would come out of that with a real opportunity to lessen the burden on Illinoisans. Instead, the task force ended their meetings without a road map to relief and no real solutions were presented today, leaving the General Assembly without direction."
"The public should be outraged by the recent headlines involving misconduct from state lawmakers." "It's time to enact real ethics reforms and it is my hope that the Governor is serious about cracking down on government corruption.
"As we enter a new legislative session, we have a fresh opportunity to change the status quo. Instead of continuing to find new revenue streams that increase the tax burden on hardworking residents, we need to find ways to limit the out-of-control spending. Only then will Illinois be able to get on a path toward prosperity."
Sen. Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods: "Lacking from today's address was any mention of the need for redistricting reform, which an overwhelming majority of Illinoisans have called for in recent years. How can we expect to have an ethical legislature when legislators continue to pick their constituents instead of the other way around?
"As corruption lurks among the Capitol and makes headlines across the state, the public trust has reached an all-time low. And with no indication from the majority party or the Governor that we will take action this session on this issue, Illinoisans should take great concern that the status quo in Springfield will remain the same."
Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove: "The governor gave his assessment of how Illinois is doing in the second year of his administration. As I see it, we have a number of challenges like corruption, a need for property tax reform, and giving the people of Illinois -- not just the politicians -- a voice in the process of drawing legislative maps. But we cannot rely on their worn-out ideas of more taxes and more spending, The time for talk is done. Let's get to work."
Rep. Brad Stephens of Rosemont: "I appreciate the Governor's bipartisan emphasis on reducing our state's excessive property taxes and growing the economy. Illinois is taxing people out of their homes. These taxes hurt seniors and it is exacerbating the state's out-migration problem.
"The legislature needs to do everything in its power to lower the property tax burden, create jobs, and grow the economy, so everyone in our communities prosper. If we work together, we can lower our state's sky-high property taxes, create good-paying jobs, and provide long overdue relief for Illinois families and small businesses. I look forward to working together to get the job done, and will continue to work with any elected official to lower property taxes and create jobs for the people of Illinois."
Rep. Dan Ugaste of Geneva: "Today the Governor expressed his support for the ethics reform proposals brought forward by our caucus, and I am pleased to support that effort. The culture of corruption has infiltrated our government and has impeded our progress for growth for far too long. Only real ethics reform will steer us forward, restore the public trust in government and allow us to work through our state's many fiscal challenges.
"Last year we made one stride forward in helping our taxpayers with a pension consolidation effort. This year we need to go further. Our pension systems are complex and will require bipartisan work to find the right solution -- but it's one that our taxpayers and businesses deserve. We cannot afford to lose any more of them."
Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine: "High property taxes and the burden they continue to place on our residents and businesses is a huge concern for me going into this legislative session. The property tax relief task force did not deliver its report on time nor provide substantial reform proposals, however, I will continue to advocate for my constituents and the state's taxpayers as a whole.
"Those of us in Cook County just received the first installment notice of our annual property tax bills, and unsurprisingly, most of us received another sizable increase. This is especially aggravating as Governor Pritzker approved last year nearly two dozen tax increases, in part, to fund a tainted $45 Billion infrastructure bill. When the Governor and the legislature fail to make spending reforms their first priority, taxpayers continue to get hit from one side to the next.
"Furthermore, the public shouldn't be duped into thinking that a new graduated income tax scheme will provide meaningful property tax relief. Failure to produce real spending and policy reform and/or government consolidation will make taxpayers and all citizens -- regardless of income level -- suffer more in the end. Illinois must grow its tax base of individuals at all income levels and businesses of all sizes. It shouldn't try to pick winners and losers with misguided 'revenue enhancements' that just end up driving more people and businesses to pick up stakes and relocate."
Rep. Keith Wheeler of Oswego: "Families here in the Fox Valley are saddled by some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Illinois continues to lag in job creation and economic growth, doing a disservice to families who want to live, work or retire in our great state. We can do better.
"If we work together in a bipartisan way and compromise -- just like we did last year to pass a balanced budget and job-creating reforms -- I know we can tackle our state's sky-high property tax problem and create more Illinois jobs for Illinois families. I'm ready to get to work and find areas of common ground with the Governor so that we can make Illinois a more affordable place for families to live and for small businesses to grow and thrive."
Rep. Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst: "Illinois deserves a government they can be proud of. While I'm glad the Governor in his State of the State said he wants to extend his hand on key issues, those will be empty words if his own party keeps their iron grip on the House process to stop reforms on property taxes and ethics. We can accomplish more together than we can apart, but true bipartisanship requires equal participation and equal effort, and equal respect for those voices you disagree with. And to date, we've seen a lot more support for political insiders and special interest groups and enabling the culture of corruption than honest tightening of belts, paying our bills, and doing our best for the people in Illinois. "Governor Pritzker said today it is no longer acceptable or tolerable to have our culture of corruption. He hasn't called for the resignation of the man who has been the enabler in chief for the last 40 years.
"I continue to stand ready and willing to work with any lawmaker -- Republican or Democrat -- that is serious in their efforts to end corruption, lower property taxes, and put Illinois on a sound fiscal path. Illinois government works best when it supports and is accountable to regular people working hard for their families, friends, faith, and communities."
Rep. Allen Skillicorn of East Dundee: "While we appreciate that Governor Pritzker signaled his support for a small number of Republican-sponsored ethics reform proposals, we believe there is more that needs to be done to root out corruption in state government once and for all.
"There is a black cloud over Springfield, and it seems we learn of new developments regarding an ongoing federal investigation into corruption and self-dealing in state government on a weekly basis. I have filed dozens of real and substantive ethics reform bills, pension reform legislation, and bills to provide property tax relief year after year that stay completely frozen out by the Speaker to languish and die in his tightly controlled Rules Committee.
"The Democratic majority thrives in the current corrupt status-quo that they have created over four decades. They freeze out real reform bills and treat the taxpayers of Illinois as their personal piggy banks, choosing to protect a well-connected chosen few over doing what is best for the all the people of the State of Illinois.
"It is time to finally deal with reality and focus on working together to address our unsustainable and massive pension disaster that grows larger every day. I have proposed a five-step pension reform plan that will fix this disaster in an ethical and fair way, but to do this we need full bipartisan support for this reform to become a reality.
"During this session, I plan to advocate for real solutions to the pension crisis. I have a 5-step plan to address out of control property taxes, a proposal to create a 1% percent hard cap, and end the unethical practice of letting legislators draw their own district boundaries and choose their constituents every ten years through a broken remap process.
"Two months ago, I called on the General Assembly to support legislation ending the practice of legislators moonlighting as lobbyists. I applaud the Governor for joining me in this common sense reform.
"With our state's terrible out-migration problem, we need to do everything we can to lower our property tax burden and create jobs so our communities will thrive. I will continue to work with any lawmaker -- Republican or Democrat -- who will work to end corruption, lower property taxes, and create jobs for the people of Illinois."
Rep. Amy Grant of Wheaton: "Some of the highest property taxes in the nation have plagued Illinois families for years. I appreciate that Governor Pritzker prioritized property tax relief and job creation in his speech today, but the Governor needs to work with Republicans to enact real reforms. Our government cannot afford another phony property tax relief task force. If we work together in a bipartisan way and compromise, then we can tackle our sky-high property tax problem and provide long-overdue relief for Illinois families and small businesses.
"As the Governor referenced in his speech, an example of this bipartisan success was the recent consolidation of police and firefighter pensions to lower property taxes in Illinois, and while this is a great first step, we must go further. We need to address the pension mess in Illinois by reforming the entire system.
"I was also glad the governor concluded his speech by addressing the black cloud hanging over the Capitol since federal investigations began to unravel last year. As a freshmen legislator who served on the property tax task force, I witnessed what little task forces actually accomplish. I fear his commission on ethics will also fail to produce substantive results. Real, lasting ethics reform must be a priority this legislative session."
Senate President Don Harmon of Oak Park: "I've long been troubled by the appearance of someone serving as a member of the General Assembly on Friday and becoming a lobbyist on Monday. That's a problem and one we should tackle," Harmon said. "You shouldn't be a lawmaker one day and a lobbyist the next.
"It's refreshing to have a governor be the lead cheerleader for the state," Harmon said. "We need a governor telling the rest of the world what's going right in Illinois."
Sen. Christina Castro of Elgin: "I'm optimistic that 2020 will be a very productive year. I was thrilled to hear Governor Pritzker express a desire to prioritize ethics reform and work toward passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act. I look forward to working closely with his office to ensure our mutual goals are achieved."
Castro is a member of the joint ethics commission and is the Senate sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act
Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora: "I share his enthusiasm for taking on college affordability, health care, property tax and pension reform, and government consolidation." "And we must continue to fight against the culture of corruption at the Capitol. We have to rebuild the public's trust and I expect the governor and General Assembly to put together a strong ethics reform package this year."
Holmes looks forward to her new role as assistant majority leader with Don Harmon's team.
"We have a diverse caucus with a wide range of priorities, representing a diverse state, and I feel confident we can work together to address those priorities. I'm working on a range of legislation for this session, from insurance reform to addressing affordable health care and pre-authorization practices, to helping farmers deal with problems controlling herbicides, to my continuing efforts in animal welfare. It's going to be a busy and productive year."
Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton of Western Springs: "I was thrilled to hear that the governor shares my commitment to ending the culture of corruption in Springfield. Strengthening our ethics laws so that politicians can no longer profit as a result of their public service remains a top priority for me, so I am glad to have an ally in Gov. Pritzker.
"With the bipartisan ethics commission set to issue their policy recommendations this March, I am committed to doing all I can in the Senate to make sure those bills get to the governor's desk. Together we will demand an honest, transparent Springfield."
Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake: "My constituents are on the front lines of the property tax crisis. I hear stories every day about outrageously high property taxes and how they bring fiscal upheaval to families. I will continue to fight for and pass legislation that consolidates and eliminates ineffective units of government to curb the flow of wasteful government spending, and am excited our governor shares those concerns. Further, we must end the practice of incentivizing local governments to max out their levies. It is an important step to empower both local governments and taxpayers to be more fiscally responsible and efficient.
"I will work with the Pritzker administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight big utility companies from further profiting off families that are already being crushed by their high taxes. We need to finally develop a comprehensive plan to bring property tax relief to the people of Illinois and show them that we are on their side.
"I also fully support the governor's efforts to end the days of corrupt self-serving politicians profiting off their positions. Over the past several years I have made it a priority to hold elected officials in Illinois to the highest ethical standards, both via legislation and by calling out members of both parties for breaking their oath to Illinoisans. Our state's history of corruption is a stain that will not easily be wiped away. Illinoisans deserve much better, and I will demand a more open and transparent state government and not stop until we have succeeded."
Sen. Ann Gillespie of Arlington Heights: "Gov. Pritzker's emphasis on early childhood education and job creation sets the bar for legislators to build an economy that allows working people to succeed. I am committed to doing all I can in the Senate to pass the initiatives needed to build that framework.
"By investing in early education and job creation, Illinois is making a promise to working people that we will stand with them their entire lives and help them succeed.
"I was heartened to hear the governor call for meaningful ethics reform. The bipartisan commission on ethics will make recommendations later this year and I am looking forward to working with them and the governor to clean up Springfield."
Sen. Laura Ellman of Naperville: "This year, I plan to focus on a number of issues, from combating climate change to quality higher education. I wish I had heard more specific proposals about the environment beyond clean energy, but after hearing him speak, I'm confident that the he will be an ally in making the state a national leader in protecting our natural resources and environment.
"Additionally, as I listened to the governor speak, his comments about ethics reform really struck a chord. We need a new level of transparency that surpasses any law we can implement. Our job is to live up to the expectations of the people we represent, and that's what I plan to do and what every elected official should also be doing."
Sen. Julie Morrison of Deerfield: "Gov. Pritzker's call for action against the repellent actions committed by state lawmakers is a great step toward ending unethical behavior." "I applaud the governor's desire to fight corruption, and I will work diligently with my colleagues to ensure we pass real, lasting ethics reform this legislative session."
"It's more important than ever for us to strive for more transparency, greater disclosure and a higher standard of conduct." "This common-sense legislation will call for lawmakers to work in the best interest of the people of Illinois by reporting if they have a conflict of interest on a legislative matter they are voting on."
"Every person who serves in elected office should serve the people of Illinois -- not themselves nor their wallets." "I will continue to work with my fellow lawmakers and the governor to ensure we are all held to the highest ethical standards."
House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago: "I want to thank Governor Pritzker for offering a straightforward assessment of the state of our state. For the first time in a long time, we come into a legislative session with the opportunity to build on success. Last spring, we worked across the aisle to balance the budget; we enacted reforms backed by the state's leading business groups that will help small and medium-sized employers grow; we created innovative new job training programs; we fought to rein in the cost of health care and prescription drugs; we took critical steps toward property tax relief; and we began the process of replacing Illinois' unfair tax system with one that provides relief for the middle class while making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share.
"There is more work to be done though. Building on this progress means we must continue to make the tough decisions to balance the budget and pay down old bills, while ensuring critical services like our schools, senior care, career and vocational education, domestic violence shelters and breast cancer screenings are funded.
"While we have seen major steps forward, we have also seen the good work of the many honest members of this Legislature be overshadowed too often by the wrongdoing of individuals who have sought to put themselves first. It's clear that we must take significant steps within the coming weeks to restore confidence in state government. But let's be clear: bad actors will always try to game the system and break the law. We must commit to sending the clearest sign the game is over and every step will be taken to prosecute.
"House Democrats stand ready to work with Governor Pritzker and our Republican colleagues to balance our budgets, enact lobbying and ethics reforms, make health care more affordable, expand educational opportunities to build an economy that works for all, and continue building a stronger Illinois."