CHICAGO (CBS) — Billionaire J.B. Pritzker has a new title as of Monday: Governor.
It wasn’t only J.B. Pritzker’s day in the sun. Democrats now completely control state government. They have veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate and control all the statewide elected offices.
Nevertheless, Pritzker vowed he would not rule with an iron fist.
The family of J.B. Pritzer, his wife M.K. and children, Donny and Teddi, bounced to the beat during the most rousing governor’s inauguration in anyone’s memory.
The song played, “We Are Family,” is a metaphor for Pritzker’s view of the state as extended family, promising not to shut Republicans out of the picture.
“With all of the challenges Illinois faces, Democrats and Republicans will work together. We will propose, debate and pass a balanced budget this year,” Pritzker said.
That’s a pretty low bar elsewhere but not in Illinois. And he added a caveat about how it will be done.
“I won’t balance the budget on the backs of the starving, the sick, and the suffering. I won’t make government the enemy and government employees the scapegoats,” said Pritzker.
That was a not very thinly veiled shot at outgoing Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner who warred with state labor unions and sat grim-faced during much of the ceremony. Pritzker also promised to legalize recreational pot and hike the minimum wage.
“They deserve a $15.00 minimum wage. It’s good for the working families of Illinois and good for our economy,” Pritzker said.
But is it good for business?
GOP legislative leaders, at their weakest strength in decades, vowed to work with the new governor.
“The Democrats I don’t think want to necessarily just deal with ramrodding their policies through. So we can be helpful,” said Senator Bill Brady (R-44th District). “We are here to be opposed in some ways but supportive in others.”
Both Pritzker and the House Majority Leader, State Representative Greg Harris, spoke about tough decisions to come. Some budget cuts and tax hikes to produce more revenue.
The state still faces more than $7 billion in unpaid bills.