Senators encouraged by priorities in governor's State of the State address

SOS 2020 2

Today, members of the Illinois Senate joined the House of Representatives to hear Governor JB Pritzker’s second State of the State address. Here are some of our senators' reactions to what he said in his address and what they anticipate in this new legislative session.


Sen. Christopher Belt (Centreville): “I am glad to see Gov. JB Pritzker’s top priorities will revise our state’s ethics procedures, early childhood education and provide property tax relief for residents throughout the state. Providing property tax relief will help people with their basic expenses and hopefully retain our residents. I also support his vision for economic development for Illinois. He is continuing to push a statewide construction and infrastructure plan, which will help the economic growth in my district by creating jobs and increasing the quality of life of the community.”

Sen. Scott Bennett (Champaign): “I was pleased to hear the governor’s plans to invest in early childhood education and college affordability initiatives. College has never been more expensive and much work remains for all involved—everyone can agree on that, regardless of political affiliation. Under the governor’s leadership, I look forward to joining my fellow lawmakers to continue the fight to improve college access, affordability and completion for everyone in Illinois.”

Sen. Melinda Bush (Grayslake): “My constituents are on the front lines of the property tax crisis. I hear stories every day about outrageously high property taxes and how they bring fiscal upheaval to families. We must consolidates and eliminates ineffective units of government to curb the flow of wasteful government spending, and end the practice of incentivizing local governments to max out their levies. It is an important step to empower both local governments and taxpayers to be more fiscally responsible and efficient."

Sen. Cristina Castro (Elgin): “I’m optimistic that 2020 will be a very productive year. I was thrilled to hear Governor Pritzker express a desire to prioritize ethics reform and work toward passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act. I look forward to working closely with his office to ensure our mutual goals are achieved.”

Sen. Jacqueline Collins (Chicago): “This will be an incredibly consequential year for Illinois and for our country, and I’m gratified to be able to fight the fight for a fairer justice system while serving in this new role in Senate leadership. The work of 2020 has just begun.”

Sen. Rachelle Crowe (Glen Carbon): “Investing in our children early will undoubtedly improve their future opportunities, and I commend the governor for echoing his commitment to investing in early childhood education. I also agree with Gov. Pritzker that we must change the culture of corruption in Springfield. By requiring more transparency in the legislative process, we’re creating a state government more people would be willing to trust. I respect the governor’s sincerity and look forward to what we can accomplish this legislative session.”

Sen. Laura Ellman (Naperville): “This year, I plan to focus on a number of issues, from combating climate change to quality higher education. I wish I had heard more specific proposals about the environment beyond clean energy, but after hearing him speak, I’m confident that the he will be an ally in making the state a national leader in protecting our natural resources and environment. Additionally, as I listened to the governor speak, his comments about ethics reform really struck a chord. We need a new level of transparency that surpasses any law we can implement. Our job is to live up to the expectations of the people we represent, and that’s what I plan to do and what every elected official should also be doing.”

Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (Chicago): “It’s critical that we provide our students with every opportunity possible to succeed. Last year, we made great strides toward improving our state’s schools by investing to retain qualified teachers and I plan to continue that important work in 2020. I was also glad to hear the governor commit to reducing property taxes in our state. Illinois residents have been paying absurd rates for far too long and it’s time to get serious about changing the law to protect taxpayers. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly to find real solutions to this problem.”

Sen. Laura Fine (Glenview): “I was heartened to hear Gov. Pritzker reaffirm his commitment to making health care affordable and accessible for all Illinoisans. Certainly, we’ve had some recent victories, but we can do so much more. It’s time to prioritize patient health over profits.”

Sen. Ann Gillespie (Arlington Heights): “Gov. Pritzker’s emphasis on early childhood education and job creation sets the bar for legislators to build an economy that allows working people to succeed. I am committed to doing all I can in the Senate to pass the initiatives needed to build that framework. By investing in early education and job creation, Illinois is making a promise to working people that we will stand with them their entire lives and help them succeed.”

Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton (Western Springs): “Strengthening our ethics laws so that politicians can no longer profit as a result of their public service remains a top priority for me, so I am glad to have an ally in Gov. Pritzker. With the bipartisan ethics commission set to issue their policy recommendations this March, I am committed to doing all I can in the Senate to make sure those bills get to the governor’s desk. Together we will demand an honest, transparent Springfield.”

Sen. Napoleon Harris III (Harvey): “Year after year, Illinoisans see a larger and larger share of their incomes eaten up by property taxes. This is huge burden and I am glad the governor is aware that something needs to change if we want our residents to continue to live in Illinois. I also support his vision for early childhood education and making college affordable.”

Sen. Michael Hastings (Tinley Park): “We must continue to invest in what makes Illinois a great place to live. Our roads, schools and other critical infrastructure must be modernized. Last year, we took huge strides and I look forward to working with Governor Pritzker to continue rebuilding Illinois. In particular, I am pleased by his administration’s commitment to working on improving our energy infrastructure to ensure that carbon emissions are reduced and clean energy sources are increased. I am also encouraged by his commitment to investing in our children’s education. All our schools, from early childhood to community colleges, must be strong if we want a robust, well-trained workforce. Most importantly, I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass comprehensive ethics reforms. We should hold each other to the standards our constituents should expect of us."

Sen. Linda Holmes (Aurora): “I share the governor’s enthusiasm for taking on college affordability, healthcare, property tax and pension reform, and government consolidation. And we must continue to fight against the culture of corruption at the Capitol. We have to rebuild the public’s trust and I expect the governor and General Assembly to put together a strong ethics reform package this year.”

Sen. Mattie Hunter (Chicago): “In his first year, Governor Pritzker made good on his campaign promise to put justice and social equity at the forefront of his policy agenda. In today’s address, it was clear that Governor Pritzker understands that this work must continue. I was encouraged by his commitment to expanding child care in our state. For working families, access to high-quality child care is imperative to their ability to build a bright future. And I am deeply concerned with recent reports that opioid deaths in my own community are rising, while decreasing in the communities of my white colleagues. The governor has made a sincere commitment today to social equity in how the state deploys resources and funding to battle the opioid crisis.”

Sen. Patrick Joyce (Essex): “Governor Pritzker hit the nail on the head about many of the problems Illinois must fix. He mentioned tackling the property tax system, an issue I’m passionate about. The communities in the South Suburbs I represent have some of the highest property tax rates in the country. That must be corrected. Health care is also an area we must focus on. I plan to promote legislation that assures better advocacy within the health care system.”

Sen. Dave Koehler (Peoria): “Ensuring that downstate continues to prosper is of the utmost importance. By passing meaningful property tax reform, creating jobs by implementing the $45 billion infrastructure plan and assisting small businesses ahead of future minimum wage increases we will provide fiscal stability for our communities. I look forward to working with Governor Pritzker as we continue our fight to increase economic security for downstate families.”

Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (Maywood): “Last year, the governor gave the General Assembly an extra push to get some big items done, and I look forward to building on such a successful session. I am particularly excited about investing in early childhood education and working to make college more affordable. Education is a vital tool in lifting people out of poverty, and I am glad Governor Pritzker shares my commitment to the children of Illinois.”

Sen. Andy Manar (Bunker Hill): “What I found most significant was the governor’s bold commitment to transform the way we think of and deliver early childhood education in Illinois. The governor and I share the belief that the benefits of child care and early childhood education should be extended to every family and student in all corners of our state. It matters who leads. These bold goals won’t be achieved overnight, but we have the momentum, vision, and bipartisan will we need to create a stronger Illinois.”

Sen. Rob Martwick (Chicago): “I look forward to working with Gov. JB Pritzker on strengthening our communities. We need to work in a bipartisan manner to reduce high property tax bills to ensure working families across the 10th Senate District see substantial savings. I’m also pleased to hear the governor’s commitment to transitioning to renewable energy efforts. We must prioritize consumers and climate over big utility corporations. With the governor’s support, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to pass meaningful legislation that will create jobs, reduce harmful emissions and ensure our children do not pay for past generations mistreatment of our ecosystems."

Sen. Julie Morrison (Deerfield): “Gov. Pritzker’s call for action against the repellant actions committed by state lawmakers is a great step toward ending unethical behavior. I applaud the governor’s desire to fight corruption, and I will work diligently with my colleagues to ensure we pass real, lasting ethics reform this legislative session. It’s more important than ever for us to strive for more transparency, greater disclosure and a higher standard of conduct.”

Sen. Tony Munoz (Chicago): “Last session was a much needed shift from a tough four years. I’m looking forward to building on that momentum to continue working on issues that our important to my district. Investing in early childhood education and increasing diversity in state contracts would help bring opportunities to communities across the state. It’s also important that we implement ethics reforms that restore the public’s trust in their elected officials and set clear rules for those who lobby government.”

Sen. Laura Murphy (Des Plaines): “I stand with Gov. Pritzker in his efforts to reform the backward property tax system in Illinois and reduce taxes on low- and middle-income earners in the state. The property taxes in Illinois place an undue burden on our working families—that’s something everyone can agree on, no matter their politics. As a member of the bipartisan Property Tax Relief Task Force, I look forward to working with the governor and my fellow lawmakers to implement a fairer tax system, keep people in the state, and lend a hand to Illinois workers and their families.”

Sen. Robert Peters (Chicago): “My main area of focus for this year will be on reimagining safety and justice in our communities, and in particular, ending cash bail. I’m confident that Governor Pritzker’s commitment to building a fair criminal justice system means he’ll be a strong ally in this fight, and I’m excited to see what we do next.”

Sen. Elgie Sims (Chicago): “I am pleased that the governor discussed the steps he would like to take to change the culture in Springfield. As co-chair of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying reform, I too am committed to doing the work necessary to restore the trust of the people of Illinois. We have to hold accountable those members who engage in unethical behavior. Rooting out corruption under the dome is essential to gaining the confidence of our constituents."

Sen.Steve Stadelman (Rockford): “The governor laid out a number of proposals that are steps in the right direction. I’m happy to hear that he plans to move forward with ideas from both parties to reduce property taxes. I’m also looking forward to working with the governor on ethics reform that will help restore trust in state government.”

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (Chicago): “The first place that we can start to improve conditions in our community is the institutional racism that we see running rampant through the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services. We have 45% unemployment among African-American males aged 20 to 24, at a time when we have a historic low unemployment and also a nearly 50% recidivism rate even after we spent $1.5 billion in corrections. When [the governor] starts measuring that, you will see some significant change.”

Sen. Celina Villanueva (Summit): “I am proud to have Gov. Pritzker as an ally in our fight to regain public trust in Springfield. Placing self-interest before the people you represent is shameful and, honestly, disgusting. With the governor’s help, we will fight corruption in our government.”

Sen. Ram Villivalam (Chicago): “We have a significant amount of work to do to restore public faith in their state government but I pledge to work with the Pritzker administration and members on both sides of the aisle to get these reforms done. The people of Illinois deserve to have lawmakers who are held to the highest ethical standards and rid the cloud of corruption that has hung over Springfield for too long. I’m ready to tackle this issue which is long overdue.”