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Republican leaders would have liked more from Pritzker's speech, but will run with 'spirit of collaboration'

State Government

By Kyla Asbury | Feb 2, 2020

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker

While House and Senate Republicans were critical of many aspects of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's State of the State address on Wednesday, most remain hopeful that he was sincere about bringing about a spirit of bipartisan collaboration.

Several Republican lawmakers noted that the governor did not adequately cover the most important topics such as fair maps and high property taxes. Many also said that while Pritzker gave an uplifting speech, it contained more style than substance and focused more on 2019 achievements such as passing a capital bill than the pressing issues facing the state in 2020 and beyond such as the crumbling pension system.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says he is hopeful because Pritzker said he wanted to continue in the spirit of collaboration.

Illinois state Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) |

"I believe him," Durkin said. "Now it’s up to the Senate President [Don Harmon] (D-Oak park) and House Speaker [Mike Madigan] (D-Chicago) to take that spirit. I’m prepared to work with them on the big issues."

State Sen. Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) says he is glad Pritzker spoke about the capital bill in his accomplishments, but that he is disappointed about not hearing about a plan to help reform property taxes.

"There were no hard facts or plans on property taxes," DeWitte said. "The task force is doing its work and we haven’t discussed the main issue — school funding. We need to address that issue. Without addressing that, it will not fix the impact property taxes have on this state."

State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) says that Pritzker did a great job of making things look as positive as he possibly could but, unfortunately, the reality is that there are a lot of challenges facing Illinoisans.

"He statistically said we have one of the biggest drops in the country, which is true, but what he failed to mention was that we had one of the highest [property tax] rates and it came down but it’s still higher than the rest of the nation," Oberweis said. "He didn’t deal with the real facts. We’re the highest-taxed state in the nation. We have to make changes to the pension climate."

State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) says she wished Pritzker would have focused more on the corruption problem in state government.

"I did not appreciate him calling it a bipartisan corruption problem because the last six months we’ve seen two Democrats plead guilty and one is under indictment," Tracy said. "It’s not bipartisan at this point and I take offense at that."

State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) says the governor has repeatedly said he is for changing the process on how the state redraws legislative boundaries, but he did not speak about it in his State of the State address.

"For property taxes and how they’re crushing the middle class, the governor spent 30 seconds talking about that," Righter said. "The governor, who is head of the party that is literally drowning in investigations and indictments and subpoenas and guilty pleas and soon-to-be prison time, spent two and a half minutes talking about ethics and corruption, which is half as much time as he spoke about the flags outside the Thompson Center."

State Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) says he heard nothing about the things the governor has championed in the past, like fair maps.

"I don’t know how he expects us to have an ethical legislature when you have a legislative process that allows the legislators here in Springfield to pick their constituents instead of allowing the constituents to pick the legislators," McConchie said. "As long as that process continues to exist, we’re not going to have an ethical legislature and we’re not going to have a legislature that looks to the people. We’re going to continue to have a legislature that fattens its own pockets."

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