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Pritzker says focus on working families makes him best choice for governor

CARBONDALE — JB Pritzker says he is the only candidate for Illinois governor who is already engaged in public service and is focused on working families.

Some of his service includes expanding preschool education and school breakfast programs, creating 1871 (a small business incubator in Chicago), serving on the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and building the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

“The state needs somebody who knows how to get things done,” Pritzker said.

He favors campaign finance reform.

“First, we need to do away with Citizens United. We need to put in campaign finance reform,” Pritzker said.

Citizens United is a 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that said the first amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit and for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.

“I’ve tried to put in a campaign that isn’t just about winning the governor’s race, but also about winning up and down the ticket,” Pritzker said.

He believes the people of the Illinois care about “kitchen table” issues such as healthcare, jobs, education and violence. He said Gov. Bruce Rauner is not serious about those issues, and did not sign a bill to require gun shops to be licensed.

“I will sign a gun dealer licensing bill and ban bump stocks and high-capacity magazines,” Pritzker said.

As far as gun violence and children, Pritzker said the matter has to be addressed, adding that the implements of violence are only one factor. The other is not being able to find human services, mental health services or homeless shelters when they are needed.

“I think weapons of war should stay in the theater of war,” Pritzker said about AR-15 types of weapons.

Pritzker, who was speaking to the editorial board of The Southern Illinoisan by telephone, said he has spent more time in Southern Illinois than any other candidate. He has focused his primary energy outside the collar counties to the other 96 counties of the state.

He believes the state needs to help people depend on themselves and the strength of their communities, rather than the government. He said small businesses are important in building that self-sufficiency.

“Two-thirds of the jobs created in Illinois are from small businesses,” Pritzker said.

However, he sees other factors that will need attention, such as infrastructure — specifically, offering high-speed internet everywhere in the state, building up universities and community colleges, and drawing large companies to Illinois.

“I think we need a governor who understand the strengths of the state and markets those strengths,” Pritzker said. “The critical focus of the next governor should be on jobs.”

Pritzker said the southern part of the state has seen challenges in the coal industry as the country moves toward clean energy. Southern Illinois used to have 25,000 coal mining jobs. Now, there are 2,500. He would like to draw clean energy jobs to “Little Egypt.”

Along with jobs, another issue is affordable housing, particularly the housing crisis in Cairo.

Pritzker thinks the state has a big role to play in the housing crisis because the governor has the ability to speak with members of the federal government and advocate on behalf of residents of the state. He said Sen. Richard Durbin has only heard from Gov. Rauner three times during his tenure, and called that a problem.

“Your job as governor is to stand up for the people of Illinois, and that means with the federal government, too,” Pritzker said. “I think the governor should do more on a federal level. We have a responsibility to keep people in Illinois with affordable housing.”

Pritzker is in favor of legalizing marijuana for a variety of reasons. First, it would do away with racial injustice created by unequal application of the law to people of color. Marijuana is readily available. And, legalization would create jobs and a tax revenue of $350 to $700 million.

“We ought to have legalized hemp growing in Illinois long ago,” Pritzker added.

Pritzker believes there are three factors in balancing the Illinois budget: job growth, attracting businesses and changing the tax system.

“Local property taxes are incredibly high because we fund our schools through that mechanism,” Pritzker said. “We need to lessen our dependency on local property taxes and increase the state’s share of funding.”

His other suggestions to balance the state budget include: instituting a progressive income tax, investing in early childhood education and preventative disease programs which result in long-term savings, and paying off short term debt to save in late fees and interest. Pritzker stresses the state also has to grow.

He favors paying pension liabilities.

“I think it is a moral obligation. Teachers are not overpaid. They do not make irrational salaries. And, they were promised pensions when they started,” Pritzker said.

He is against shifting pension costs to school districts or teachers to 401K plans.

“You are essentially handing the bill to someone else — handing the state’s bill to someone else,” Pritzker said.

He favors putting some economic development funding in Southern Illinois to help improve tourism.

He is against fracking.

Pritzker will support whatever candidate wins the Democratic primary, but he believes he will win. He pledged to work with everyone to solve the state’s problems.

“Good ideas come from everywhere. I’m a Democrat, but Republicans have good ideas, too,” Pritzker said.

For more information about JB Pritzker, visit

Illinois treasurer opposes bill to limit audit authority

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois treasurer said he opposes a bill that would take away his office's authority to hire auditors to help recover residents' unclaimed property.

Businesses are legally required to make a good faith effort to find the owners of unclaimed property, such as unpaid life insurance benefits and forgotten bank accounts, and must turn it over to Treasurer Mike Frerichs' office if unsuccessful.

But Frerichs said audits are necessary because not everyone complies with the law.

"It would provide a get-out-of-jail-free card for companies that knowingly keep unclaimed property and would erase a tool used by every industry in America that double check that they're operating efficiently," Frerichs said.

Illinois holds more than $2 billion in unclaimed property, with more than one-fourth coming through audits, according to Frerichs' office.

But supporters of the bill argue that the hiring of contingency fee auditors, who collect a "finder's fee" on unclaimed property they recover, incentivizes behavior that rewards private companies at the expense of taxpayers, The State Journal-Register reported.

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch said audits could still be done, but in a way that protects taxpayers

"Chamber initiative, SB 2901, allows all types of audits except for those funded on a contingency basis," Maisch said. "That is those audits conducted by an outside firm where the firm is compensated based on how much revenue they can extract from businesses."

The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. Pamela Althoff and has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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Today is Wednesday, March 14, the 73rd day of 2018. There are 292 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On March 14, 1923, President Warren G. Harding became the first chief executive to file an income tax return, paying a levy of $17,990 on his $75,000 salary.

On this date:

In 1794, Eli Whitney received a patent for his cotton gin, an invention that revolutionized America's cotton industry.

In 1885, the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera "The Mikado" premiered at the Savoy Theatre in London.

In 1900, Congress ratified the Gold Standard Act.

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order designed to prevent Japanese laborers from immigrating to the United States as part of a "gentlemen's agreement" with Japan.

In 1939, the republic of Czechoslovakia was dissolved, opening the way for Nazi occupation of Czech areas and the separation of Slovakia.

In 1951, during the Korean War, United Nations forces recaptured Seoul.

In 1964, a jury in Dallas found Jack Ruby guilty of murdering Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, and sentenced him to death. (Both the conviction and death sentence were overturned, but Ruby died before he could be retried.)

In 1967, the body of President John F. Kennedy was moved from a temporary grave to a permanent memorial site at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

In 1975, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," a sendup of the legend of King Arthur, had its world premiere in Los Angeles. Academy Award-winning actress Susan Hayward, 57, died in Los Angeles.

In 1980, a LOT Polish Airlines jet crashed while attempting to land in Warsaw, killing all 87 people aboard, including 22 members of a U.S. amateur boxing team.

In 1990, the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies held a secret ballot that elected Mikhail S. Gorbachev to a new, powerful presidency.

In 1998, India's Congress party picked Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of assassinated prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, as its new president.

Ten years ago: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama denounced inflammatory remarks from his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who had railed against the United States and accused its leaders of bringing on the Sept. 11 attacks by spreading terrorism. A tornado ripped into the Georgia Dome during the Southeastern Conference tournament, sending debris tumbling from the ceiling and prompting fans to flee. Protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in Tibet turned violent, leading to an extensive crackdown by China's military. Lindsey Vonn completed the first American sweep of the overall World Cup titles in 25 years, a day after Bode Miller won his second overall crown in Bormio, Italy.

Five years ago: During his first full day as pontiff, Pope Francis stopped by his Vatican hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself. Some 10,000 workers from across the European Union protested outside a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, demanding they end years of austerity and focus instead on curbing runaway unemployment with more spending. A nearly 19-hour standoff in Herkimer, New York, came to an end inside a cluttered, abandoned bar as police SWAT teams killed the suspect in four fatal shootings. The NHL's realignment plan was approved by the league's board of governors.

One year ago: A blustery late-season storm plastered the Northeast with sleet and snow, paralyzing much of the Washington-to-Boston corridor but falling well short of predicted snow totals in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. President Donald Trump earned $153 million and paid $36.5 million in income taxes in 2005, according to highly sought-after tax documents disclosed by a reporter. Declaring "enough is enough," Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, told senators that he intended to fix the problem that led to current and former Corps members sharing nude photos of female Marines online and making lewd or threatening comments about them. Mitch Seavey won his third Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, becoming the fastest and oldest champion at age 57. Seavey also set a time record of 8 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds.

— Associated Press


Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker participates in a debate on March 2 in Chicago. 

bhetzler / The Southern File Photo 

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announces a loan program that will put millions of dollars of money into rural Illinois banks to help individuals obtain loans at lower rates in February in Murphysboro.