Governor Pritzker celebrated his first 100 days in office in April and his office released a list of his accomplishments in these first 100 days. Pritzker came into office with big plans of what he wanted to achieve and the policies that he wanted to enforce. He has even gone as far to say, “People want to move to Illinois” and that businesses are growing. Interesting – I am not sure what Illinois he lives in but I don’t think it is the same one that I do.
So, what are Governor Pritzker’s accomplishments from the last 100 days?
Coming into office, Pritzker was determined to raise the minimum wage statewide. And he did so. Over the next 6 years, the minimum wage across the state of Illinois will rise to hit the set $15 an hour. I dedicated an entire post to the implications of this but as a recap: this is not a positive shift for everyone as the legislature has touted it to be. Either leading to shortened hours for existing employees or cut back on the number of employees a company employs as a whole. Not to mention the extra stress and potential cost that will come from local businesses as well. Just look at the “success” this has caused Seattle. In sum, be careful what you wish for.
A bill signed into law in April raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco from age 18 to age 21. This bill was introduced and accepted because of the studies that point to tobacco addiction originating in younger smokers. Not only traditional cigarettes but also e-cigarettes are affected by this legislation. As a reminder, 18 year-old can still lawfully smoke in Illinois, they just cannot purchase their smokes … interesting nuance given the “their brains aren’t fully developed argument” advanced to support this uneven law.
In an attempt to address the crippling debt facing the state of Illinois, Pritzker announced and appointed members to two different task forces. One of them is looking at the possibility of asset reallocation in an attempt to fund the pension deficit. This solution could be helpful as long as the asset is not just shifted from one budget item to the pension budget item, therefore creating a deficit somewhere else. The other task force is analyzing the possibility of pension fund consolidation. This option is very appealing especially because Illinois has over 600 pension funds, each with its own administrative costs! Having said all of this, it is instructive to note that Illinois has a long history of appointing task forces to study almost everything … and whose recommendations are then totally ignored and soon forgotten.
The Next 100 Days
Looking forward, we are going to continue to hear about the “fair tax” proposal and the constitutional amendment to override our flat income tax provision. But more on that in a later post. We can also plan to see a focus on criminal justice reform and an increased focus on infrastructure and education. Oh, and I anticipate a ton of new taxes and fees … have to feed the beast that is Illinois government, after all. More to come soon.