Democratic gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker brought his newly minted running mate, state Rep. Juliana Stratton, to Montgomery on Monday evening to speak to a local Democratic Party organization.
The pair addressed an event hosted by the Democratic Women of Kendall County, a relatively new organization formed in April, at the UAW Local 145 hall.
Pritzker is a member of the wealthy Pritzker family and is a venture capitalist and philanthropist. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Mary, and their two children.
During his address, Pritzker focused on issues such as implementing a progressive income tax to give property tax relief to residents, improving funding for education and social services, and legalizing marijuana.
Pritzker said he favors a progressive income tax, in which those who make more money pay a higher income tax rate, to help fund schools and offset the property tax burden.
“We’ve got real challenges in the education system,” he said. “If you ask me, we’ve got to improve our education system not just by having a progressive income tax that will help us pay for schools, but also by just focusing on it as the engine of economic development and economic growth in this state.”
Pritzker said the state’s fiscal issues “can be fixed.”
“I met with the people who issue our debt, I went and met with the people who rate our debt, I met with the budget directors on both sides,” he said. “And you know what, we can fix the problems of the state, it’s just there’s no political will to do it. It’s hard, but we can do it.”
During a question-and-answer session following his speech, Pritzker said he was in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois. He said one of the reasons is safety.
“Marijuana is readily available to people,” he said. “People are getting ahold of it in unsafe ways, what they’re getting ahold of is unsafe, you don’t know what’s in it. So there’s a safety component about the marijuana itself.”
The second reason is for criminal justice reform.
“We should not be locking people up for having a relatively small amount of marijuana,” he said. “And least important, there’s probably $350 million to $700 million in revenue we can garner for the state if we can tax it.”
Pritzker said Illinois can look to other states that have legalized marijuana in recent years and evaluate the good and bad of those states’ policies.
Pritzker said he was opposed to so-called “right to work” laws that prohibit unions from requiring the payment of dues.
“Labor unions are the backbone of the middle class, labor unions are the backbone of the Democratic Party, labor unions are protecting even those that don’t belong to labor unions,” he said. “We need to stand up for labor unions and we need to make sure that right-to-work legislation is never on the lips of people in the state of Illinois again.”