In an annual tradition, a joint session of the General Assembly listened to the State of the State address by Gov. Pritzker on Wednesday, January 29, where the Governor laid out his priorities for the 2020 spring session.
Responding to recent federal investigations and charges against current and former legislators, Governor Pritzker called for swift action on ethics reform to end the culture of corruption.
“We must root out the purveyors of greed and corruption,” Pritzker said. The Legislature must pass “real, lasting ethics reform” this session.
House Republicans have introduced a sweeping ethics reform package that directly addresses issues from the federal investigations. These are common sense measures – prohibiting lawmakers for being lobbyists, expanding statements of economic interest for lawmakers to mirror what judges have to submit, and requiring documentation of any communications between elected officials and state agencies. We are pleased that the Governor indicated his support for several of these House Republican-backed measures.
The Governor also urged the General Assembly to tackle the issue of property tax relief. Too many Illinois families and seniors are being forced from their homes due to skyrocketing property taxes. Unfortunately, House Democrats have only paid lip service to the problem, convening a Task Force that did not produce a final report on time and that, instead of providing concrete steps to reduce property taxes, actually proposed increasing taxes on Illinois working families.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin praised Pritzker’s bipartisan approach to balancing the budget and infrastructure spending, agreeing the state is better off now than it was a year ago.
For Durkin, the main impediment to ethics reform is not Pritzker, but Madigan.
Durkin said he was disappointed Pritzker did not mention redistricting reform, saying the governor previously said he supports a non-partisan map for the state’s legislative districts, but so far has not done anything to back up his pledge.
Earlier this week, the House Republican leadership team repeated the belief of the Caucus that there can be no true ethics reform without fair maps. Legislative maps frame and define the districts from which each lawmaker gets elected or selected. New maps will be drawn in 2021 following the reporting of the national census population numbers for 2020. HJRCA 10, sponsored by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and more than 40 colleagues, sets forth a legal pathway for the people of Illinois to take action at the November 2020 general election that will conclude in the drawing of fair legislative maps and districts for all Illinois voters.
With the drawing of the new maps quickly approaching, the Democrats must get serious about real, independent redistricting reform and fair maps. The Governor himself has said he would not sign a gerrymandered map. He even went so far as to say that he would veto any map that was drawn by lawmakers, political leaders, or their staff. House Republicans plan to hold him to that promise.
Nearly 3 out of every 4 Illinois residents – including a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – support fair maps. We have a little over 3 months to pass a constitutional amendment referendum that will allow voters to weigh in on this critical issue in the upcoming General Election. We owe it to the people of Illinois to get it done.