Illinois residents should ask themselves two questions before they cast their ballots this election cycle.
Is the state better off than it was four years ago?
Do you have any confidence things will get better under the current governor?
We answer both questions with a resounding no, which is why we think Democrat J.B. Pritzker is the best choice for Illinois governor. He is endorsed over Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Libertarian Kash Jackson and Conservative Party candidate Sam McCann also are on the ballot.
Trading a rich Republican for a rich Democrat is not our preferred model for governing the state, but those are the top two choices.
What we find appealing about Pritzker is that he has shaped public policy through hard work, not just with his checkbook.
Pritzker has a five-point plan for early childhood education, which we agree is of critical importance if students are going to be prepared for the 21st-century workforce.
He advocates a birth-to-5 approach much as we’ve seen here with work done through the United Way of Rock River Valley.
He has advocated for early learning opportunities before Congress, the National Governors Association and other groups. He has supported the creation of organizations that focus on helping young children.
We believe small businesses are the foundation of Illinois’ economy and the future of its growth. Small businesses create 67 percent of the net new jobs in the nation, a consistent trend for 20 years.
Pritzker founded 1871, named for the year of the Great Chicago Fire, a digital startup center that ranked first in the world in the 2018 UBI Global list of Top University-Affiliated Business Incubators.
While there’s plenty of agreement about education and the importance of small businesses, it’s Pritzker’s plan for a graduated income tax that divides voters.
We agree with him that income is the fairest way to tax people. Property taxes and sales taxes are regressive, disproportionately affecting middle- and low-income families.
Critics have hammered Pritzker for not being specific about where he would set the rates. We get that, but realistically a move toward a graduated tax would be at least two years away. Voters would need to approve a constitutional amendment and they would need plenty of specifics by the time they go to the polls. Philosophically, Pritzker is on the right track.
Meanwhile, he has staff members dedicated to finding ways the state can save money. Those are cuts that should be made as soon as Pritzker takes office.
He also promises to be an enthusiastic salesman for the state, which is one of our criticisms of Rauner. A governor should be the state’s biggest cheerleader, not its biggest detractor.
Rauner has complained so often and so loudly about how badly things are going in Illinois that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. People leave, disgusted by the politics and lack of leadership as much as by the high tax rates.
Locally, we’re disappointed by Rauner’s lack of support for Chicago Rockford International Airport. The airport is an economic engine for the entire Rock River Valley. There are thousands of jobs at or because of the airport and it has grown to be the 22nd-largest cargo airport in the nation.
It could grow more if Rauner would sign off on the money promised to the airport under Gov. Pat Quinn. That money was supposed to help pay for AAR Corp.’s $41 million maintenance, repair and overhaul facility. Quinn lost his bid for re-election, and Rauner froze the airport money.
Five local banks teamed up to extend a $17 million line of credit to the airport, ensuring that the jet-repair hub would be completed on schedule. Paying back that loan costs the airport nearly $100,000 a month in interest — money that could be better used to make a growing airport grow faster.
We thought there would be a happy ending to the story when state Sen. Steve Stadelman included a $14.7 million appropriation for the airport in the budget bill approved by lawmakers and signed by Rauner five months ago.
The airport has yet to receive that check and the voucher for it has not made its way to the comptroller’s office.
Rauner is fond of saying “As Rockford goes, Illinois goes,” but his neglect of one of the region’s key assets puts the lie to his rhetoric.
Pritzker, meanwhile, toured the airport last week after meeting with the Editorial Board. He personally called airport director Mike Dunn for a tour. He saw “amazing” economic progress and said he would work with Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep Cheri Bustos on airport issues.
For Rockford and for the state of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker is the best choice.
Region: Northern,Feeds,City: Freeport,Editorial,Region: Rockford,Opinion
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November 3, 2018 at 08:15AM