When the Democrat-led House and Senate closed the legislative session one week ago, lawmakers returned home for a lengthy in-district work period touting the largest list of accomplishments in decades. Although there was a bit of partisan back and forth, it appears that some Republicans are catching on to the idea that Democrats really do put working and middle-class families first in Illinois. It’s why, in part, some of them joined the call for bipartisanship on game-changing reforms to make Illinois work for people again. Democrats at the statehouse led the charge, representing the wishes of their constituents who said in November, “Get big things done!”
Consider the remarkable difference between Governor JB Pritzker and his predecessor, failed Republican Bruce Rauner. Unlike Rauner, Pritzker hasn’t spent his time tearing down Illinois or her hard-working people. Pritzker isn’t praising other states who’ve ripped away collective bargaining rights. He’s not held an entire government hostage because he’s holding out for some mysterious priority no one can determine.
Governor Pritzker doesn’t operate with a chip on his shoulder or an axe to grind. He understands that good government and good politics isn’t conducted by bankrolling astroturf “journalists” or “news services” to skew the facts and attack elected officials.
Today, it’s a different Illinois; an Illinois where big things are getting done. Democrats at every level can be proud of the progress our leaders have shepherded. Congratulate yourself, because you’ve had a part in Thinking Big!
Here’s a quick look at the major legislative accomplishments of Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Democrats:
- A $15.00 PER HOUR MINIMUM WAGE – For many observers, Governor Pritzker’s first leadership test was passing a plan to phase in a livable wage for Illinois workers. Just weeks into his term, Democrats passed the governor’s initiative to steadily increase the minimum wage, meeting the goal of $15.00 per hour by 2025.
- VOTERS GET A CHOICE FOR A FAIR TAX – Democrats were able to put major tax reform on the 2020 ballot. The Fair Tax Amendment will help to modernize Illinois’ tax code, ensuring that the state’s wealthiest and most fortunate invest a bit more to our progress. Under the proposed plan, 97 percent of Illinois taxpayers will see stability in their income taxes, including tax relief. If approved by voters, Illinois will join the majority of states in maintaining a tax code built on fairness.
- BALANCED BUDGET – Democrats in the General Assembly took another hard look at state spending as they built the FY20 budget. Innovative approaches were crafted to leverage more federal tax dollars, recapturing hundreds of millions back from Washington to boost investments in education, health care and infrastructure. Democrats were even joined by a bipartisan coalition who agreed with the priority of fiscal discipline that the budget is built on.
- REBUILD ILLINOIS: THE LARGEST INFRASTRUCTURE REVITALIZATION PLAN IN STATE HISTORY – After a series of hearings throughout the state, lawmakers knew a plan to fix crumbling roads and bridges can’t wait any longer. In addition to tens of billions of transportation revitalization projects, investment in colleges and universities, schools and other community priorities are all part of a $46 billion construction plan to spark economic activity and job creation.
- ADULT USE OF CANNABIS: SMART REGULATION FOR RESPONSIBLE LIBERTY – The legalization of adult use of cannabis has been years in the making for Illinois. The comprehensive regulations will help spur a new industry with strong oversight and careful development. It is a progressive reform that public polling shows has grown in acceptance for a majority of citizens.
- REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM – While other states are passing unconstitutional laws on reproductive health, Illinois set forward a package to secure state laws designed to reinforce the commitment to follow the guidance of the long-upheld Roe v. Wade decision.
- A MINIMUM WAGE FOR ILLINOIS TEACHERS – After years of attacks on retirement security, over-regulation and false claims of how leisurely the job of educators must be, Illinois is coming to terms with a serious teacher shortage. Several measures aimed at attracting more to the teaching profession were shepherded by Democrats this year, including a phase-in of a $40,000 minimum wage for full-time teachers.
PRO-BUSINESS REFORMS FOR ILLINOIS COMPETITIVENESS – A variety of reforms to boost business growth were negotiated by Democrats this year. New initiatives like the “Illinois Works” program will help provide smart incentives to job creators who are willing to invest in training. Democrats also agreed to scrap outdated taxes on franchises, something the Illinois Chamber of Commerce has sought for many years. Democrats have shown they’re pro-worker and pro-business.