Pritzker defends progressive credentials in Democratic governor bid

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Morning Spin for Monday, April 17, 2017
Topspin Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker on Sunday accused the media of trying to divide the primary field into categories of establishment and progressive contenders and said he’s firmly in the progressive camp despite his immense wealth.
“Let’s be clear that it’s the media that’s decided to break it down into an establishment versus progressive. I’m a progressive,” the billionaire investor and entrepreneur said on WGN AM-720 in describing his work on child care, education, social justice and job creation.
“There’s nobody running in this race and nobody on the other side — for sure, the governor — who’s created jobs like I have. So job creation is hugely important. It’s something I’m running on. I don’t know what you want to call that. I call that good for the state,” he said in reference to founding the private investment firm the Pritzker Group and the tech incubator 1871.  
Pritzker is seeking the Democratic nomination for the chance to take on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner along with another wealthy rival, Chris Kennedy of the iconic political family. Two others seeking the nomination — 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar and state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston — have warned Democrats they should not try to combat Rauner’s wealth by nominating a wealthy candidate and have sought support among populist progressives in the party.
Pritzker, who put $7 million into his campaign fund Friday, said he will push for a graduated state income tax to replace the state constitutionally mandated flat tax rate. He said his own wealth makes him the best-positioned candidate to go up against Rauner, a wealthy former equity investor, on the issue.
“I’m the best person in a general election to stand up to Bruce Rauner and say, ‘It’s time to implement a progressive income tax,’ that Bruce Rauner should pay a higher tax than someone who makes $30,000 a year, and so should I. And we need to raise wages in this state and create jobs and you (Rauner) haven’t created any. I have,” he said.
But Pritzker also said changing the constitution isn’t something that would happen quickly. It takes a three-fifths majority of lawmakers in the House and the Senate to put a proposed constitutional amendment before voters. Such a proposal is unlikely until at least 2020, which would not provide any quick revenue fix for the state.
“When you think about how we’re going to get there, the progressive income tax is hugely important — for a variety of reasons — to talk about now so that you can get it done in a reasonable amount of time," Pritzker said. "You know we could get it done in the second year of a new administration."
Asked about his ability to work with veteran Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, Pritzker said governors “don’t get to choose … who the speaker is.”
“I’m an independent thinker and independent leader. I have been my whole life,” he said.
Rauner, Pritzker said, is seeking a second term by asking people to forget about his first term.
“He’s now campaigning for re-election pretending the last 2 1/2 years didn’t happen, as if to say it’s his agenda going forward, but we should just forget that 2 1/2 years have gone by,” Pritzker said of Rauner.
Pritzker said Rauner has shown a lack of leadership in trying to negotiate a state budget, leading to the state’s historic impasse.
“When you’re governor, you’ve got to step up to the plate, you’ve got to make a proposal for a balanced budget. That’s the requirement. And then you’ve got to sit down and negotiate if the folks that you need to work with disagree with you on points,” he said.
“Instead, what did he do? He went into the room. He said, ‘Great, lay all of your ideas on the table.’ They did. Then he walks out of the room and lambasts all the people in the room. And then he walks back into the room and says, ‘Great, let’s keep negotiating.’ And then he walks out of the room and lambasts every one of the proposals and then walks back into the room. And that’s his idea of negotiating,” Pritzker said.  Last week, Rauner spent two days touring the state on a campaign-funded tour. He blamed Democrats for stonewalling on his economic agenda. (Rick Pearson)   What’s on tap *Mayor Rahm Emanuel will kick off the city’s road paving program for this year. *Gov. Rauner is scheduled to be in Moline to discuss "changes to get Illinois back on track" and in Peoria to discuss "changes to fix Illinois’ broken system." *Democratic governor hopeful Pritzker plans to campaign in Springfield and Champaign. *Today before midnight is the deadline for filing state campaign finance reports. *City Council committees will consider an agreement with the Park District for more police in parks and a new proposal for gun range zoning. *The week ahead: On Tuesday, the Finance Committee could consider a plan to send more TIF district surplus money to Chicago Public Schools. On Wednesday, the City Council meets and Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs will speak to the City Club of Chicago.   From the notebook *Blame game, part 2,579: Gov. Rauner offered a new defense Friday against criticism that his involvement in bipartisan Senate talks aimed at achieving a “grand bargain” resolution ended up killing it. The Republican governor sought to pin blame on his favorite political target — Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. “The House Democratic leadership has been sending over some of their lieutenants and some of the their leaders of their special interest groups that fund them over to attack the Senate Democrats and try to blow up the ‘grand bargain,’" Rauner said Friday on WBEZ-FM 91.5. “You should check with the Senate Democrats about the pressure they’re getting. President Cullerton has been under relentless pressure, special interest groups beating him up,” he said. Cullerton spokesman John Patterson questioned Rauner’s assertion of House Democratic involvement. “I don’t think they had anything to do with … Republican votes for the budget deal disappearing overnight,” he said. (Rick Pearson) *The chase for cash: Some U.S. House veterans from Illinois are amassing fat war chests long before the 2018 midterm elections, which is one way to try to scare off potential rivals. Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, whose seat a few Democrats are eyeing, reported campaign receipts of almost $586,000 in the first three months of the year, leaving him with almost $533,000 in the bank on March 31, a Federal Election Commission report shows. The six-term lawmaker swept to re-election last fall with 59 percent of the vote, but he’s alone among Illinois Republicans in Congress since his district favored Hillary Clinton. Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Moline did even better, garnering 60 percent of the vote in a district went for Donald Trump. The three-term lawmaker started out the second quarter of the year with nearly $1.69 million in her war chest after receipts of almost $342,000 in the first three months of the year, an FEC report shows. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon had $1.53 million in the bank at the end of March after receipts of just over $210,000 in the quarter, his report said. He faced only a write-in candidate last November. Democratic Rep. Danny Davis of Chicago, who had nominal opposition last November, had nearly $303,000 in the bank after receipts of more than $15,000, his report showed. Then there’s four-term Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who wouldn’t face voters again until 2020 if he chooses to seek another term. He’ll be 75 years old then. He started out the second quarter of the year with $1.06 in the bank after quarterly receipts of $392,000. (Katherine Skiba) *On "The Sunday Spin": Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson’s guests were Bill Ward, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Illinois; Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker; and state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago. "The Sunday Spin" airs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on WGN AM-720. Listen to the full show here.   What we’re writing *Rauner tour allowed governor to remind supporters he’s up for re-election and attempt to account for why his agenda stalled. *Pritzker pours $7 million of fortune into his governor bid. *Two Illinois lawmakers among 312 state employees who haven’t filed 2014 tax returns. *Cubs World Series ticket offer violated rules, county watchdog says. *Stakes are high for workers, businesses as Illinois considers minimum wage hike. *Thousands in Daley Plaza for Tax Day protests, demand Trump release returns. *29 people shot in 18 hours in Chicago.   What we’re reading *Sued, found unfit and a friend mysteriously shot — a Chicago cop’s rocky record. *Taste test: How does the new frozen Billy Goat ‘cheezborger’ compare to the original? *Typically monogamous penguins caught in love triangle that isn’t just black and white.   Follow the money *It’s deadline day for state campaign finance reports. Watch them roll in here. *The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform has a week in review. *Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.    Beyond Chicago *Trump claims tax return protesters were paid. *Trump appointees raise potential ethical conflicts. *Womp-womp: North Korea missile launch fails, but experts say weapons display impressive. *Turkey’s Erdogan claims victory in referendum to expand his powers.
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