ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Governor J.B. Pritzker, a first-term Democrat, “surprised the heck out of everybody” when he struck a series of pro-business compromises as the clock ran out in his first legislative session at the statehouse, Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch said on Capitol Connection.
“It’s really kind of a tale of two sessions, and almost a tale of two governors over the last several months,” Maisch said. “[Pritzker] came out of the gate with a huge minimum wage increase that small businesses are not going to be able to pay. He went straight to the graduated income tax. But then at the end, [he] came around and said, ‘you know what, the elimination of a lot of these taxes, a capital bill, a new economic development incentive that is really important for a lot of people.’ There it was. Like, bam. Surprised the heck out of everybody. It is a much, much more balanced assessment than it would have been two weeks before the end of session.”
Maisch, who represents business interests spanning the state, said “the jury is still out” on whether or not Pritzker qualifies as a pro-business governor, but also acknowledged that the new governor “certainly made some real substantial movement over the last three or four days of session. No doubt about that.”
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce is among a number of economic conservative groups that oppose Pritzker’s main campaign pledge to alter the state’s constitution to abolish the flat income tax and replace it with a progressive graduated rate structure.
Maisch predicted his group will run media ads with an eye toward shaping the public discussion around the 2020 ballot question.
“The campaign has begun,” Maisch said. “Other groups have been running ads already. We will be energizing the grassroots, which means local chambers to talk about the impact on small business, talk about the impact on entrepreneurs, talk about the impact on wealthy individuals that can move to Florida and avoid it altogether.
“Democrats frankly gave us a little bit of a gift of time because our arguments take a little while to make. They have given us a full almost extra year to go ahead and make those. I think we are going to defeat it. I am predicting defeat today.”