For Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Democrats, making and breaking big promises is becoming a way of life. If that sounds like a typical throwaway political attack line, an examination of the last year of action (or inaction) by the governor and the Illinois General Assembly reveals the truth.
From drawing fair legislative maps to promises of honesty in financial dealings, protecting children in the care of DCFS, addressing rising crime, and providing relief for families struggling to afford necessities like food and fuel, Democrats have made some big promises. To this point in the 102nd General Assembly, it seems Democrats' promises were made to be broken.
As a candidate for office, Governor Pritzker promised he would veto any new legislative map drawn by politicians. But after one of the least transparent and most politically divisive redistricting processes in state history, Governor Pritzker broke his promise to veto politician-drawn maps multiple times. Pritzker signed multiple versions of new legislative, Supreme, and Appellate Court maps, insanely gerrymandered Congressional maps, and a new judicial subcircuit map that will allow Democrats to pack lower courts full of Democrat appointees. When elected, Governor Pritzker promised to put his massive wealth in a blind trust. Pritzker also promised he would not invest in companies that do business with the state and purge his holdings of any companies that have state contracts. At the end of February 2022, the Better Government Association printed a story detailing Governor Pritzker’s 'blind trust' purchase of stock in Centene, one of the State of Illinois' biggest Medicaid contractors. Governor Pritzker denied any knowledge of the investment, and his spokespeople threatened news outlets reporting on the story as potentially libelous. What about the children in state care the governor promised to protect? The Director of DCFS has been held in contempt of court an astounding seven times due to children in DCFS care languishing in psychiatric hospitals beyond medical necessity. Governor Pritzker keeps pointing to past administrations for the failures even as he approaches his 4th year in office. Yet, there are multiple actions he could take. A January hearing on failures at the agency revealed DCFS is training new caseworkers via Zoom, hiring is lagging behind what is necessary to provide children and families adequate service and protection, simulation labs for training employees are not being used, and the agency is not working with the Illinois State Police to train caseworkers on de-escalation tactics. There is no way a Zoom call can adequately prepare caseworkers for the situations they will find themselves in when making home visits. Children in state care or under DCFS supervision are counting on Governor Pritzker and leaders at DCFS to keep his promise to right the DCFS ship. Improving conditions and outcomes at DCFS is a big promise that the governor must deliver on. Children and families cannot wait any longer. At the beginning of the current Session, Speaker Welch promised a sweeping anti-crime package was coming, but there's been little said and even less done to move that package forward. Speaker Welch said legislation was necessary to address spikes in carjackings and organized retail theft. Governor Pritzker and Speaker Welch both indicated at the start of 2022 that they would prioritize adequate funding for law enforcement to ensure officers are properly trained and supported. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Democrat crime prevention package has yet to materialize. Republicans have introduced a package of bills designed to keep families safe and properly fund our police, but the Democrat supermajority has yet to allow a vote on any such piece of legislation. In his Budget Address, Governor Pritzker promised to help families that are struggling because of inflation by cutting the grocery tax and suspending a portion of gas taxes, but there is not a single piece of legislation currently moving to address either issue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation is at its highest rate in 40 years. The inflation rate has hit new 40-year highs every month of the year so far. Democrats have the power to address inflation but have done nothing while working families continue to struggle. House Republicans have introduced multiple measures to reduce property, income, and sales taxes on food and gasoline, but Democrats have not held even one committee hearing to address inflation. On the issues of good government, transparency in financial transactions, protecting children in state care, addressing rising crime, and curbing out-of-control inflation JB Pritzker and Illinois Democrats are piling up empty promises. The people of Illinois cannot wait any longer. The time has come to deliver.