Gov. Pritzker Makes Headway in First Nine Months

Lauren Johnson, Views Editor

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As of Sept. 16, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has now spent exactly nine months in office. From minimum wage to marijuana legislation, he has bulldozed his way through the past several months.

He has accomplished a number of legislative priorities, including the approval of a state budget, which predecessor Bruce Rauner was unwilling to pass. In early June, the General Assembly approved this “balanced budget,” as promised in Pritzker’s campaign. This 1,581-page document amounts to a whopping $40 billion spending budget.

According to the Daily Herald, however, Illinois can begin to see tax hikes, a high gas tax, new debt or spending cuts as a result of this “unbalanced budget.” But hey, at least he has designated where a huge chunk of it is going: the infrastructure plan.

Other major legislation passed by Pritzker includes the $15 minimum wage, a process which will begin Jan.1 of next year, raising the existing minimum wage of $8.25 an hour to $9.25 an hour. According to the Chicago Tribune, this gradual implementation will eventually raise the wage to $15 by 2025. To many, raising minimum wage brings concern of inflation, which is exactly why Pritzker feels a piecemeal approach is appropriate. 

Pritzker and the General Assembly passed two major bills in the May: a bill related to graduated income tax and the legalization of recreational marijuana use and sales. The bills allow graduated income tax to appear on the voting ballot in the 2020 election and recreational marijuana sales to be legal as of Jan.1, 2020. Though speculation of its passing began in Rauner’s term, Pritzker “sealed the deal” on legal, future recreational use. According to Reuters.com, lawmakers and data analysts estimate that the regulation of marijuana sales could produce up to $500 million in revenue.

In June, Pritzker passed the“Tobacco 21” law, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 21. This measure is essential as America sees an increasing number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Though not such a paramount issue during Rauner’s term, the former governor still vetoed the law back in 2018, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Though achieving one thing after another, it is still unclear as to how much legislation Pritzker will pass in the following years of his term. He was elected for his impressively broad, progressive agenda; we can only hope he will continue to “Think Big,” as promised.

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