Reactions To Gov. Pritzker’s Budget Address; Photojournalist Chris Capozziello

February 21, 2019
 

E. Jason Wambsgans/AP

On The 21st: Yesterday Gov. Pritzker gave his first budget address in Springfield before a joint session of the General Assembly. It’s the beginning of the give and take between him and state legislators and it should lead to a final budget by the end of May. Today, reactions from lawmakers on what they liked, what they didn’t like, and where there’s room for some middle ground. Plus, we’ll speak with artist and photojournalist Chris Capozziello about his exhibition, The Distance Between Us. It tells the story of what it’s like to have a twin with cerebral palsy.

Yesterday Governor Pritzker delivered his first budget address. Consider it a blueprint of sorts a starting point for negotiations between him and state lawmakers. At the end of it all, we should have a final budget in place by May 31st.

Governor Pritzker has proposed a $38.7 billion budget but he says that because Illinois is already in such a difficult financial situation, his budget doesn’t have everything he wants. 

We wanted to hear how people reacted, including the lawmakers who have to work with the governor to pass a budget.

Representative Greg Harris is from Illinois’ 13th House district which includes parts of Chicago’s north side. He’s a Democrat who became the new majority leader last month.

We also spoke with Democratic Senate President John Cullerton from the State Capitol. 

Lawmakers weren’t the only ones closely listening to Governor JB Pritzker’s first budget address.

So was organized labor. AFSCME Council 31 is Illinois’ largest union of public employees. And it’s an understatement to say that they had a difficult relationship with our last governor, Bruce Rauner.

On his first day in office, Governor Pritzker restored pay increases for the union’s workers, increases that had been blocked by Governor Rauner even after a court order to pay them.

John Cameron is director of community relations with AFSCME Council 31.

Democrats hold a lot of power in state government right now with super majorities in both chambers and control of every statewide office.

And yesterday, Governor Pritzker laid out his priorities for not just the state’s budget, but some of his bigger goals during his time in office.

One of them is a new income tax system. Right now Illinois has a flat tax of 4.95 percent. The governor wants to change that to a progressive income tax where higher income earners pay more. In his speech, he called it a “fair tax”.

Between that, and the minimum wage increase to 15 dollars an hour, the governor is set up for some hard conversations with members of the business community, who oppose these measures.

Mark Denzler is president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. I spoke with him yesterday on the floor of the capitol.

What we do know is that the state is starting with a $3.2 billion budget deficit. The Governor has said his budget fills $2.2 billion of that, with the remaining one billion coming from economic growth.

Children’s Home and Aid works in 60 counties across Illinois. Last year they helped about 40,000 children and families. Nancy Ronquillo is its President and CEO and she’s joined us on the line. 

Plus-

Photojournalist Chris Capozziello, his brother Nick, and their family are the subject of the film, The Distance Between Us which explores Nick’s cerebral palsy.

Chris is here in Urbana as the George A. Miller Visiting Artist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The opening reception for Chris’ photos and The Distance Between Us exhibition is at the University YMCA tonight at 5pm.