Saturday, September 2, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Feature image: J.B. Pritzker during a campaign stop in Chicago on Sept. 2. || Alexa Rogals/Wednesday Journal
During the opening of a campaign office in the Chicago’s Austin community on Saturday, Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker — who’s widely considered to be the frontrunner in the Democratic primary race — explained what he said is the key to lower property taxes in Maywood.
“Low-income communities are burdened with the highest rates of property taxes in the state and that’s unfair, and it’s because the system overall is unfair. The biggest challenge is that the state of Illinois only puts up about a quarter of the money for school funding all across the state. A quarter of the money. So roughly three-quarters of that comes from local property taxes. A little, tiny bit comes from the federal government.
“In an average state in the country, about half of the money [for public education] comes from the state and half from local property taxes. Illinois has consistently been underfunding its schools.
“[Residents] at the local level have to pick up the slack, having to pay higher rates in order to keep your schools. This is a big, big problem all across the state. So, Juliana [Stratton, his running-mate] and I want to make sure that the state steps up to its obligation in order to fund schools.”
Juliana Stratton, left, and J.B. Pritzker, applaud on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, during an opening for Pritzker’s campaign office in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. | Alexa Rogals
Pritzker also summarized numerous aspects of his campaign platform, detailing his plans for childhood education and healthcare, among other areas. Below are excerpts from his Saturday stump speech.
On the state’s budget crisis
There are people who have suffered because Bruce Rauner, for 736 days, wouldn’t pass a budget; wouldn’t even introduce a budget. You know what’s happened to social services in our state. Agencies have closed, mental health facilities have closed — the things that I’ve cared about my whole life are under siege.
We need equity in education. That means starting with our youngest kids. Every single child should have access to universal preschool. We need quality childcare for every child. Eighty-five percent of brain development occurs before [children] show up at kindergarten. This state needs to help those kids and parents.
You know that Donald Trump wants to take away healthcare for 1 million Illinois residents and for those who will keep their healthcare, their premiums will go up.
We have to preserve and expand healthcare. We need a public option. I introduced a plan called Illinois Cares that allows people in the middle-class to get a cheaper deal on their premiums for healthcare; and those who can’t otherwise afford those premiums can buy in at a lower cost.
We need to expand healthcare in the state and then go fight in Washington and get ourselves a single payer, universal healthcare system.
Pritzker supporters sign in before a Saturday rally inside of the candidate’s new campaign office Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. | Alexa Rogals
On his governing philosophy differing from Gov. Rauner’s
Government is not a business. Government is not run like a business. We need a governor who wakes up everyday thinking about investing in people.
On small businesses
Two-thirds of all the jobs in this state get created by small businesses. We have to invest in small businesses in this state. We need the state to stand up with a small business loan fund and a micro fund.
I believe part of that will be legalizing marijuana and taxing it. What matters most is safety. It’s readily available but it’s not safe. We need to make it safe.
Secondly, we need criminal justice reform. The people who end up going to jail and prison are not the kids who come from the North Shore. You know it’s a racial issue. We’ve got to bring equity back; that’s why we have to legalize marijuana.
Yes, is there $350 million to $700 million of state tax revenue we can bring in if we legalize marijuana? Yes there is. And that’s not bad either.
I’ve worked hard on criminal justice reform. I endowed the Center on Wrongful Convictions. When you read about somebody who spent [years] in prison for a crime they didn’t commit, it’s usually the Center on Wrongful Convictions representing the guy who got out. The center also wrote the moratorium on the death penalty in this state.
To me, criminal justice reform is critical and legalizing marijuana is part of it. It’s also part of an urban agriculture plan for our state. VFP