Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday defended the higher taxes that will soon be imposed in Illinois and applauded plans for expanding gambling with the first-ever Chicago casino.
Following a legislative session described in newspaper headlines as historic and momentous, ending with agreements on major issues, Pritzker answered questions about lawmakers' new pay raise, the key elements that led to legislative compromise and where Chicago's casino might go.
"I've not had any conversations with the mayor or the city council members about where," Pritzker said, "but I have said publicly and I really believe that we should be creating jobs in communities that have been left out and left behind."
Some speculate the casino might be headed to the South Side, at the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital.
Fourth Ward Ald. Sophia King denies the possibility of that happening in her backyard, saying Bronzeville residents want "a vibrant mixed use development consisting of residential commercial and community space."
Budder Jones however, says he lives blocks away from the site and is the founder of ‘Inmates for Change.’
"It's an empty lot now and something needs to be developed on it,” he said. “If the casino will generate jobs for immediate, individuals who are still in the area, that would be great... but it also needs to be maintained with some sense of responsibility.”
As far as the $1,600 pay raise lawmakers gave themselves, the governor says he's "going to sign the budget as is."
After years of impasse, protests and cuts to funding, Pritzker says there was a key factor in reaching the deals he made:
"Being willing to talk to people, sit down, you know, make change, work it out, and sometimes you get almost all of what you want," he said.
Tuesday’s event primarily focused on the upcoming census. The state budgeted $29 million to get an accurate count for the 2020 census.
As Gov. Pritzker notes, the stakes are high as it's believed Illinois might lose not one but perhaps two congressional seats, as well as federal resources.