What’s a guy need to do to get a little respect in the State of Illinois? Gov. J.B. Pritzker might be asking himself that following results of a recent poll.
Pritzker, who seems to be doing everything right during his first quarter in office, was trumped by President Trump in the poll conducted by We Ask America released last month. Illinois voters are a tough crowd, but Trump being more popular in a deep blue state than a Democrat governor who trounced his GOP opponent in November? Hmm.
The poll asked 800 statewide voters about the freshman governor’s job performance. The survey found 37% approving of his short time in office and 36% disapproving.
Astonishingly, Trump received a 41% approval rating, while Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who also is chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, ended up with only 18% of those surveyed having a favorable opinion of him. Even among Democrats, Madigan had a mere 26% favorable rating.
With numbers like that, perhaps Illinoisans are suffering from Madigan Derangement Syndrome, akin to what effects Trump’s critics who overlook all the MAGA things he has accomplished in his first term. Likewise, we heard Madigan after the November election promise to do good for us when he said in his lofty television commercials: “In the fights that lie ahead, Democrats are on your side.”
Granted, the sampling in February was conducted by an arm of the pro-business Illinois Manufacturers Association, but the survey is a snapshot in time as they say. Maybe most of those polled live downstate, where they have their own issues.
Pritzker’s seemingly sunny disposition will be needed to overcome the perception by those questioned about the state of the Land of Lincoln. In the poll, 55% of respondents said Illinois is headed in the wrong direction, with 23% saying we’re on the right track.
Poll numbers aside, Gov. J.B. so far is making all the right moves. He walked into a financial mess, which is still there, but somehow he makes it look like we’re doing OK.
He appears to be on the way to getting his graduated income tax proposal approved by the Legislature — which needs to do so by the end of May — on the 2020 ballot. The progressive income tax was one of the planks of candidate Pritzker’s gubernatorial platform, and he is expected to take the point in pushing for voter approval.
He’s signed the $15-an-hour measure he campaigned for into state law. It ramps up minimum-wage workers’ basic wages to that amount in 2025. Additionally, Pritzker has extended sex reassignment surgery for the estimated 1,400 Illinoisans diagnosed with gender dysphoria and who are on Medicaid beginning this summer.
His administration is on track to unload the state-owned James R. Thompson Center in Chicago’s Loop. The boondoggle opened as a city home for state offices. Selling it puts needed cash into state coffers and puts the building back on the tax rolls.
With Pritzker’s signature earlier this month, the age to buy tobacco products statewide was raised to 21. His predecessor, Republican Bruce Rauner, had refused to raise the buying age, as have some suburban village boards and city councils.
Last week, the governor signed into law a labor-backed bill banning local “right-to-work” zones, precipitated by Lincolnshire enacting one four years ago. The issue is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Illinois is on the way to becoming the next state to legalize recreational marijuana, another issue Pritzker ran on. The governor hopes to see taxed and regulated legal pot sales, which could bring in upward of $200 million in revenue annually, by 2020.
All in all, it’s been a few good respectful months for our new governor, despite that low popularity poll result. We’ll see how he fares in the coming months as the Legislature gets down to real state business.
Charles Selle is a former News-Sun reporter, political editor and editor.
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April 17, 2019 at 10:37AM