CHICAGO (CBS) — JB Pritzker will be sworn in as governor Monday afternoon, at a packed arena in Springfield, but the honeymoon might not last very long, as even Democratic allies acknowledge he faces the tough task of filling a “pretty large hole” in the state budget.
Pritzker started the day by attending an interfaith service at First Presbyterian Church in Springfield.
Meantime, scores of eager spectators – mostly Democrats, of course – prepared to attend his inauguration, enthusiastic about the change they’re hoping Pritzker brings to Springfield. About 7,000 elected officials, dignitaries and citizens will fill the Bank of Springfield Convention Center to witness Prizker as the 43rd governor of Illinois.
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m., with Pritzker taking the oath of office at noon.
A longtime government watchdog and House Speaker Michael Madigan’s top lieutenant both had more sober evaluations about the challengers Pritzker now faces as he takes the mantle of power from Republican Bruce Rauner.
Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center For Tax & Budget Accountability, said the change in governors means “first and foremost, functional government.”
“That’s something Illinois hasn’t had for years. I mean, even under Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn, there were a lot of battles between the General Assembly and the governor’s office, I think, that were unnecessary and counterproductive,” he said. “I think JB Pritzker has shown, look, he gets he’s got to work with legislators to have an agenda move forward.”
Outgoing Gov. Bruce Rauner feuded with Madigan throughout his term, resulting in the state going more than two years without a budget, before a handful of Republicans signed on to an income tax hike to end the impasse in 2017.
House Majority Leader Greg Harris said that Pritzker and lawmakers have a “pretty large hole” they must fill in the state budget this year.
“I don’t think any one method is going to solve it all. We have to be more efficient, we have to trim back waste, we have to look for things that we’re doing that we can do better, and we’re going to have to frankly look for some more revenue,” he said.
Pritzker won’t be the only one taking the oath of office. His running mate, Julianna Stratton, will be sworn in as lieutenant governor, along with Kwame Raoul as attorney general, Susana Mendoza as comptroller, Mike Frerichs as treasurer and Jesse White as secretary of state. That means Democrats will hold every statewide office, along with super-majorities in both the House and Senate.
After the inauguration ceremony, the attention shifts to Monday night’s inaugural ball at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, where rumors of a surprise musical guest has piqued everyone’s curiosity. Pritzker representatives said they cannot discuss the musical lineup.