Chicago (CBS) — When billionaire J.B. Pritzker takes the oath of office Monday, he will become not just the richest governor, but the richest elected official in the nation. His personal wealth was no small factor in his successful campaign for governor.
Pritzker spent $171 million of his own money to get elected.
“The people of Illinois are worth it,” Pritzker said. “We need to change the direction of the state.”
Pritzker says the biggest problem facing the state right now is instability.
“We need a balanced budget in our state, and we need people to have their faith restored in state government,” Pritzker said.
That faith was shattered during Gov. Bruce Rauner’s political tug of war with House Speaker Mike Madigan that left Illinois without a budget for two years. Now, Democrats will have bigger majorities in both the House and Senate with voters focused on results.
Pritzker’s goals for his first six months in office include balancing the budget, raising the minimum wage and legalizing recreational marijuana.
He backed a graduated income tax but stopped short of supporting a gas tax hike to fix roads and bridges.
“You’ve got to look for ways to pay for infrastructure, but it doesn’t have to be one particular source,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker says he expects to have a good working relationship with powerful Madigan, who some say considers himself Illinois’ real governor.
“There’s going to be disagreements along the way, no doubt about it,” Pritzker said. “That happens between the executive branch and the legislative branch, but the fact is that we won on a set of principles. I believe the legislature won on that as well, so there’s a lot that we can get done. If we can lift up working families, that’s what’s good for our economy, that’s what’s good for the people of Illinois and that’s what I’ll be fighting for.”
Pritzker is worth more than $3 billion and his personal fortune is already impacting state government. He is doubling the salaries of some 20 top staffers, including his three deputy governors, with money from his own pocket.