JB Prizker: 2022 candidate for Illinois Governor
Office sought: Governor
Occupation: Governor of Illinois
Previous offices held: Governor of Illinois
What do you consider the key to an effective working relationship between the governor's office and legislative leaders? To what extent is this relationship effective now? What would you do to improve it?
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 across the state. I regularly speak and meet with legislative leaders and with 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 pieces of legislation, including the bipartisan infrastructure plan to rebuild roads, bridges and airports, police and fire pension reform, balanced budgets that have led to credit upgrades, and a nation-leading climate bill. I plan to maintain and build on these relationships if I have the opportunity to continue serving as Illinois' Governor.
What is the responsibility of the governor to work with legislators in determining health regulations during the pandemic or any other public health crisis? How would you work to meet this responsibility?
Throughout the pandemic, I spoke regularly with Republicans & Democrats, mayors, county board chairs, & elected officials to get their input & keep them informed of recommendations by public health experts. There was never a moment I didn't work collaboratively, & the decisions I made took a wide array of views into account. It was necessary to ramp up mitigations when variants were causing high rates of transmission & therefore high case rates, hospitalizations & ICU usage. When those rates fell, mitigations like mask requirements were removed. The General Assembly has always been able to pass legislation to address COVID, & in fact did so on several occasions when it appropriated various rounds of federal assistance for Illinoisans. As Governor, it's my duty to do all I can to keep the people of IL safe, keep our healthcare system up & running, keep our economy from suffering inordinate damage, & secure the necessary resources to support the medical & financial health of Illinoisans.
Should the state play a role in funding a new Bears stadium at Arlington Park? What is the governor's responsibility in this regard?
I am a Bears fan and would be disappointed to see the Bears leave the city of Chicago. We are not currently considering using public funds for a new stadium. As a private enterprise, the team is entitled to make the decisions that are best for them, and I hope they can continue to engage with Chicago city government and work out their differences.
What will you do to ensure spending priorities you espouse during your campaign are reflected in the budget?
When I ran for governor in 2018, I promised to put state government back on the side of working families and put our state on strong fiscal footing. I said I would raise the minimum wage to $15, and we did. I promised to pass a major infrastructure investment plan, and we did. I wanted to increase scholarships for college bound students and increase vocational training in high schools and community college, and we did. I said I would make childcare more affordable, and we did. I wanted to put the state on a path toward 100% clean energy, and we did. Ensuring the accomplishment of my budget priorities is dependent upon a clear focus on balancing the budget, reducing waste, paying down the bill backlog, and getting credit upgrades, all of which we have accomplished.
Efforts to create an independent panel to determine legislative districts were not successful in time for the 2020 Census. How important do you think it is to create such a process for the 2030 Census? If you support the issue, what should be done to create change, when should it be done and how would you contribute?
Illinois' strength is in our diversity and the maps I signed last year help ensure that communities that have been left out and left behind have fair representation in our government. The district boundaries also help ensure our diverse communities have electoral power and fair representation--a principle that will be critical for redistricting in the future. I continue to support a constitutional amendment for an independent commission to draw the maps, something the General Assembly was unwilling or unable to pass in 2019.
How well do you think the evidence-based model for education funding in place in Illinois is working? How would you define "adequate" state funding for Illinois schools and what will you do to promote that?
The evidence-based funding model is working, and it 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, I have been able to increase support for evidence-based funding by over $1 billion during my term in office so far. As a lifelong education advocate, I am committed to making Illinois the best state in the nation to raise young children and to ensuring that Illinois children grow up to have bright futures and boundless opportunities.
What will you do to fix the public employee pension systems?
I'm proud to have taken action to address the State's pension burden. We've fully funded General Funds pension contributions and appropriated $300 million above the required pension contribution in FY23 to reduce future pension liabilities by more than $1 billion. I expanded the discounted buyout program for pensioners that has already reduced net pension liabilities by $1.4 billion. And after nearly 75 years of governors and General Assemblies attempting to do it, in 2019 I succeeded at passing the law consolidating nearly 650 downstate and suburban first responders pension systems, which is projected to save taxpayers billions of dollars and reduce the upward pressure on property taxes. I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly to further address our pension challenges.