Gov. Pritzker bracing for new showdown with Illinois GOP over taxes

He became Illinois’s 43rd governor exactly one year ago Tuesday. Now, J.B. Pritzker's bracing for a new showdown: An up or down voter referendum this year on his plan to change Illinois’ flat-rate income tax.

Illinois Republicans rang in this new election year with dire predictions, accusing Democrats of plotting to force increases in sales taxes and property taxes, in addition to a referendum on raising the Illinois income tax on those making $250,000 a year or more.  

The Democratic governor has already spent millions of his own dollars to promote a "yes" vote on that income tax plan.

“What I’m trying to do is lower the tax burden on middle-class Illinoisans,” said Gov. Pritzker. “We need to have a fair tax system in the state and we need to pay our bills. We need to stabilize our budget and our state government.” 

It’s a budget that counts on tens of millions of dollars from a new gambling palace in the state's largest city.

“I'm very optimistic [about a casino in Chicago], hopeful that we can get it done,” said Gov. Pritzker. “I've asked the mayor -- and she's been working hard at it -- to work with legislators. It's important because otherwise it gets characterized to people who live outside the city of Chicago, you know, ‘you're giving some give-away to the city!’”

When asked why the number of shootings and killings in Chicago are still so much higher than in New York or Los Angeles, the governor proposed solutions.  

“Those underlying causes of gun violence are things that we addressed in our budget,” said Gov. Pritzker. “So, there's everything from child care, to substance abuse treatment improvements, to mental health treatment increases. I think that's led, in part, to some of the reduction of gun violence -- and other violence -- around the state."