By: Veronica Leighton
Joining dozens of journalists on January 14th at Bank of Springfield Convention Center, we wakened up early to troop down and tackle a three-and-a-half-hour drive to Springfield (Illinois capitol) to witness and cover new Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s inauguration as the 43rd governor of our state. The huge convention center that accommodates 7,000 was almost packed to capacity, and finding a parking spot was extremely problematic to thousands of people in attendance. Believe it or not, this huge building does not have parking amenities. Aren’t we spoiled Chicago residents somehow? With our (good) luck, a handicapped parking spot right in front of the door beckoned us that we hurriedly grabbed without hesitation. And, while unloading our TV camera and other paraphernalia, we were asked a few times by some politicians’ drivers (Senator Dick Durbin, Senate President Cullerton) if we were leaving our parking spot.. That really made us feel “super-omnipotent” over those powerful politicians that we know of. What a great feeling!!
Governor J.B. Pritzker’s inaugural address touched on many things, some exciting, some so-so, and some giving feeds on our minds as to how he can tackle them in the next four years. How can he really salvage and solve the ailing economy of this state, the state that is in the higher bracket among US states with droves of people leaving it. The most important topics that came out of Gov. Pritzker’s pronouncements are below. (Some references in the Internet for matters of accuracy).
On the budget:
“But be clear about this: I won’t balance the budget on the backs of the starving, the sick, and the suffering. I won’t hollow out the functions of government to achieve an ideological agenda – I won’t make government the enemy and government employees the scapegoats. Responsible fiscal management is a marriage of numbers – and values.”
The current tax system is simply unsustainable. Others have lied to you about that fact. I won’t. The future of Illinois depends on the passage of a fair income tax, which will bring us into the 21st Century like most of our midwestern neighbors, and like the vast majority of the United States.
“It is time to update and repair our state’s aging infrastructure. Railways, roads, bridges and fresh water arteries are on the verge of collapse. Crumbling bridges mean people’s lives are in danger. Deteriorating rail systems mean goods and services take longer to deliver and cost more. We are the nation’s supply chain hub and we must be built like it.”
On climate change:
“I believe in science. To that end, as one of my first acts as Gover-nor, Illinois will become a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance, upholding the goals and ideals of the Paris Climate Accord.”
“In the interests of keeping the public safe from harm, expanding true justice in our criminal justice system, and advancing economic inclusion, I will work with the legislature to legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational cannabis in Illinois.”
Other notable moments:
“At 200 years old, Illinois is still a young promise. Our time here has been but a blink. In 2019, we must begin a new century with new maturity…and enough foolishness to believe we can make a difference.”
“Our history is a story of leaps forward and occasional stumbles back – and a promise renewed with each generation that we will try harder…that we will do better…that big breakthroughs are built of centuries of selfless effort by unheralded heroes …that big change rides on what we can do together, not what one person attempts alone.”
Personally, I thought the most interesting and exciting point in this speech is his promise to legalize marijuana. “In the interests of keeping the public safe from harm, expanding true justice in our criminal justice system, and advancing economic inclusion, I will work with the legislature to legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational cannabis in Illinois.” A recent study found that legalization would create 24,000 jobs in Illinois, as well as generate more than $500 million in tax revenue and infuse about $1 billion into the state economy overall by 2020.
This big plan plus raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour) which will upset the business community) and sports betting will invite controversies and criticisms. Asked when Illinoisans will be able to buy legal weed or bet on Chicago Bears games, he pointed to lawmakers’ predictions that marijuana could be available by 2020, but he gave no such prediction about gambling expansion.
He also stated that he’s making a commitment to policies that would help improve the lives of lower-income people, such as affordable child care and paid parental leave.
It’s a well-known fact that Pritzker spent more than $171 million to win this past election over past Gov. Bruce Rauner (a Republican who’s also a billionaire), and so he promised to “shift some of his immense wealth into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest, but it’s unclear whether he will be able to fully wall off his fortune from his official duties as Illinois governor.”
Good luck to Gov. JB Pritzker, that you may be able to attain and execute more specifics over your broad pronouncements, that you may be guided by the Divine Light and may you not end up in jail like your other predecessors.
Mr. Pritzker is the third Jewish person to become Illinois governor. Congratulations likewise to Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton on her historic inauguration as Illinois’ first black lieutenant governor.
Illinois’ new Governor JB Pritzker, with his family, waving at the crowd during his inauguration on January 14, 2019.
VT’s Veronica, Elaine Lehman and Joe Mauricio getting ready for work at the media station for the inauguration of Gov. JB Pritzker and other state officials last January 14th in Springfield, IL.
CPRTV’s Joe Mauricio positioned in between the network giants ABC, NBC & WGN for a TV coverage of the inauguration.
Thousands of attendance at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center with a capacity of 7,000 people.
Ray Nonato, Filipino political leader, shown with Governor JB Pritzker at the Proviso Baptist Church In Maywood.