J. B. Pritzker
J. B. Pritzker
|43rd Governor of Illinois|
|Assumed office |
January 14, 2019
|Preceded by||Bruce Rauner|
Jay Robert Pritzker
January 19, 1965
Atherton, California, U.S.
Mary Muenster (m. 1993)
|Education||Duke University (BA)|
Northwestern University (JD)
|Net worth||US$3.2 billion (June 2019)|
Jay Robert "J. B." Pritzker (born January 19, 1965) is an American businessman, philanthropist and politician serving since 2019 as the 43rd Governor of Illinois. He is a private business owner based in Chicago and a managing partner and co-founder of the Pritzker Group and a member of the Pritzker family who own the Hyatt hotel chain; he has an estimated personal net worth of $3.2 billion.
Pritzker was the Democratic nominee for governor of Illinois in the 2018 gubernatorial election. He defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner in the general election on November 6, 2018. As governor, he holds more private wealth than any other governor in U.S. history and is the second-wealthiest U.S. politician to have ever held office, after Michael Bloomberg.
- 1 Early life, family, and education
- 2 Business career
- 3 Political career
- 4 Governor of Illinois
- 4.1 Tenure
- 4.1.1 2019-20 fiscal year
- 4.1.2 Abortions
- 4.1.3 Child welfare and education
- 4.1.4 Climate change
- 4.1.5 Criminal justice and law enforcement
- 4.1.6 Gambling
- 4.1.7 Gun control
- 4.1.8 Healthcare
- 4.1.9 Immigration
- 4.1.10 Infrastructure
- 4.1.11 Labor
- 4.1.12 LGBT rights
- 4.1.13 Marijuana
- 4.1.14 Taxation
- 4.1.15 Tobacco
- 4.1.16 Veterans
- 4.1 Tenure
- 5 Political positions
- 6 Philanthropy
- 7 Personal life
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life, family, and education
Pritzker was born and raised in Atherton, California, a member of a Jewish family prominent in business and philanthropy during the late 20th century. The Pritzkers are consistently named near the top of the Forbes "America's Richest Families" list since its 1982 inception. One of three children of Sue (née Sandel) and Donald Pritzker, his elder siblings being Penny Pritzker, former United States Secretary of Commerce, and Anthony Pritzker. Pritzker is named after both of his father's brothers, Jay and Bob.
He attended Massachusetts boarding school Milton Academy and then graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Pritzker went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University School of Law. He is an attorney and a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association.
Pritzker served as chairman of ChicagoNEXT, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's council on innovation and technology, and he founded 1871, (named for the year of the Great Chicago Fire), Chicago's digital startup center. He played an important role in the creation of the Illinois Venture Capital Association and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. He also co-founded Chicago Ventures and funded the startup of Techstars Chicago and Built in Chicago.
Together with his brother Tony, Pritzker co-founded Pritzker Group Private Capital, which owns and operates middle-market companies. The group includes a growing family of companies including pallet rental leader PECO Pallet and medical device maker Clinical Innovations. In 2008, Pritzker received the Entrepreneurial Champion Award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce for his efforts to promote economic development and job creation.
In the 2008 presidential election, Pritzker served as national co-chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign. He was a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He supported President Barack Obama in the 2008 general election and helped bring the Clinton and Obama campaigns in Illinois together.
Pritzker founded Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, a national organization dedicated to attracting voters under the age of 40 to the Democratic Party. He also served on the Washington, D.C., legislative staffs of U.S. Senator Terry Sanford (D-NC), U.S. Senator Alan J. Dixon (D-IL), and U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), for whom he handled multiple domestic and international issues.
In 1998, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois's 9th congressional district, spending a half million dollars from his personal fortune on television ads in the Chicago market. Pritzker finished last among three candidates in the Democratic primary, receiving 20.48% of the vote, to then State Representative Jan Schakowsky's 45.14% and State Senator Howard W. Carroll's 34.40%.
Rod Blagojevich FBI wiretap
In May 2017, the Chicago Tribune published an 11-minute FBI wiretap of Pritzker and then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008 discussing campaign contributions and options for Pritzker to be appointed to statewide office. At the time, Pritzker was described as a "businessman with political ambitions". On the tapes, Blagojevich asked Pritzker if he would like to be appointed state treasurer, to which Pritzker responded, "Yeah, that's the one I would want." The tapes have raised questions of "pay to play politics", with both Republicans and Democrats, including incumbent GOP Governor Bruce Rauner and Pritzker's Democratic primary opponents, taking issue with Pritzker's conduct. Pritzker has responded to the allegations by stating: "I've not been accused of any wrongdoing. I have not done anything wrong." No allegations of wrongdoing were ever made by law enforcement against Pritzker, and Pritzker has said: "over decades of my life, I have been doing public service, and the opportunity to continue to do public service as treasurer of the state was something that had been brought up, and so there was a conversation about that."
2018 Illinois gubernatorial campaign
On April 6, 2017, Pritzker announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois. His campaign received the endorsements of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, former Illinois Congressman Glenn Poshard, more than a dozen members of the Illinois General Assembly, twenty-one local labor unions, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.
On August 10, 2017, Pritzker announced that his running mate would be State Representative Juliana Stratton. By December 2017, Pritzker had spent US$42 million of his own wealth on his campaign, without significant fundraising from any other source. On March 20, 2018, he won the Democratic gubernatorial primary. In the November general election, Pritzker defeated incumbent Republican governor Bruce Rauner. Pritzker received 54% of the vote, while Rauner received 39%. By the time of his election, Pritzker had spent US$171.5 million of his own wealth on his campaign, primarily on digital outreach, television advertising, and staff.
Governor of Illinois
Pritzker was inaugurated as the 43rd Governor on January 14, 2019.
In his first official act as Governor, he signed his first executive order which will usher in a renewed era of transparency among state agencies.
2019-20 fiscal year
On June 5, 2019 Governor Pritzker signed a bipartisan $40 billion balanced budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. This budget includes, among many other things, $29 million in additional funding for efforts to encourage participation in the U.S. Census. Public spending increases will be paid for by tax hikes. A separate bill signed by the Governor imposes sales taxes from online retailers, a tax on insurance companies, and decouples of the Illinois state income tax from a federal tax cut for companies that bring their foreign profits to the U.S. This budget neglects any potential revenue that might be collected from the legalization of recreational marijuana. In addition, people who owe their taxes from between June 30, 2011, and July 1, 2018, will be able to take advantage of a “tax amnesty” program that allows them to pay without penalty.
The Governor's office expects a $150 million surplus. It said it will use this money to pay down the state's $6-billion backlog of unpaid bills.
In June 2019, Governor Pritzker signed into law a bill that repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, which penalizes doctors for performing abortions considered unnecessary, and the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act. This new bill ensures the "fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about one's own reproductive health," specifically the right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term or to abort it, and denies a zygote, an embryo, or a fetus "independent rights under the law" of the State of Illinois. Pritzker encourages states that have passed restrictions on abortion to reconsider their positions and added that women from other states can seek refuge in his. Pritzker signed this bill at a time when the landmark Supreme Court decision Rode v. Wade in 1973 legalizing abortion nationwide could be challenged. This bill is known as Senate Bill 25, or the Reproductive Health Act.
Child welfare and education
In the balanced budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, worth $40 billion, the State of Illinois authorized more spending on education, including grade schools, community colleges, and state universities. Funding for grade schools will rise by nearly $379 million, more than the $29 million required by the new state funding for education formula passed the previous year. Funding for community colleges will increase by $14 million, for public universities by $53 million. Grants for low-income students will receive a $50-million bump. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, currently facing financial pressure, will receive a total of $80 million for hiring new staff and improving services.
On top of that, the Rebuild Illinois capital plan (2019) will spend some $3.2 billion for public colleges and universities over a period of six years. $78 million of that money is allocated to emergency repairs and delayed maintenance. However, because the capital plan relies on tax revenue on gambling and smoking, it will be a while before that money becomes available. For years, public institutions of higher learning in Illinois have struggled financially and have lobbied for increased funding without much success. Budget cuts and ballooning costs have been driving Illinois residents out of state. Tuition fees, room and board have doubled in virtually every state college or university since the 2003-4 academic year. According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, in 2017, 48.4% of Illinois public high school graduates went on to attend out-of-state institutions. That number was 46.6% in 2016, and 29.3% in 2002. Moreover, data show that Illinoisans chose not just colleges and universities from nearby states such as Iowa and Indiana, but also as far away as Alabama and Utah, lured by financial aid and scholarship packages.
Below is a sample of state colleges and universities in-line for additional funding.
|School name||Total additional funding|
|University of Illinois system (campuses in Chicago, Urbana-Champaign, and Springfield)||$1,314,900,000|
|Illinois State University||$199,300,000|
|Northern Illinois University||$217,600,000|
|Southern Illinois University||$475,600,000|
|Western Illinois University||$173,000,000|
|Northeastern Illinois University||$78,200,000|
|Eastern Illinois University||$72,700,000|
|Governors State University||$55,900,000|
|Chicago State University||$86,400,000|
In addition, community colleges statewide will receive a total of $1,032,800,000 while private colleges and universities will get $400 million for capital projects. AIM High, a merit-based scholarship program for Illinoisans, will see its funding rise to $35 million, up $10 million.
Pritzker created the College Student Credit Card Marketing and Debt Task Force (House Bill 1581), whose task it is to look for ways to help students reduce their credit card debts after graduating from an institution of higher education in the state. The task force is to report its findings to the General Assembly by December 4, 2019.
Pritzker created a job training program for community colleges that will be funded based on the percentage of low-income students attending. It will launch in September 2020.
He joined the U.S Climate alliance which was made after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.
Criminal justice and law enforcement
On April 1, 2019 Pritzker created the Youth Parole system for the State of Illinois.
He signed into law the Senate Bill 1890, whose goal is to crack down on human trafficking. It requires hospitality business owners to train their employees in recognizing victims of human trafficking and on protocols of reporting to authorities. It also establishes the penalties for engaging in human trafficking, including a fine of up to $100,000 and a charge of Class 1 Felony.
While serving in the Illinois Senate, Barack Obama sponsored an initiative that would collect data on traffic stops. This was codified when Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 1613 into law. It creates a task force to collect and analyze data on traffic stops in order to address racial disparities. The task force is to report to the Governor and the General Assembly by March 1, 2022, and every three years thereafter.
According to the Governor's office, the 2019-20 budget will fund two classes of Illinois State Police cadets.
In order to help pay for his 2019 capital spending bill, Governor Pritzker expanded gambling, that is, allowing for more casinos and legalized sports betting. This does not mean new casinos can be built and sports betting can begin right away, however. Granting licenses for such activities is the job of the Illinois Gaming Board, and the process is a complex one, lasting for several months or more and involving extensive criminal background checks, among other requirements. According to the Governor's office, gambling will bring an additional $350 million in revenue each year. This gambling expansion bill extends to Chicago, something desired by the city. Mayor Lori Lightfoot emphasized economic development in the South and West sides of the city during her campaign. She has argued that a new casino, privately owned, and associated hospitality and entertainment venues would bring money in to the city.
On January 17, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed a bill requiring state certification for gun dealers that was passed during the tenure of his predecessor, Bruce Rauner. It also requires gun dealers to ensure the physical security of their stores, to keep a detailed list of items on sale, and employees of such stores to undergo annual training. These requirements come on top of the mandatory federal license issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Proponents say Senate Bill 337 prevents guns from falling "into the wrong hands" while opponents argue it creates additional bureaucracy, imposes a financial burden on gun business owners, and will neither enhance public safety nor reduce crime. The Illinois State Rifle Association in particular argues that the bill violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution because it interferes with the right to bear arms and has filed a lawsuit alongside eight gun dealers.
In 2019, Governor Pritzker approved of a tax on private insurance that will go into the state's Medicaid program.
On January 24, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed an executive order expanding access to welcome centers in Illinois for immigrants and refugees. Welcome centers help guide immigrants on a path to citizenship and refugees with access to health care, education, jobs, and legal services.
On June 21, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed a bill banning the operation of private immigration detention centers in Illinois. Another bill forbids state and local police to cooperate with U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) to deport illegal immigrants. Undocumented individuals who identify as transgender may apply for state financial aid. (Federal aid requires proof of citizenship and those who were born male to register for the draft.)
In late June 2019, Governor Pritzker deployed an additional 80 Illinois National Guardsmen to combat flooding in southern parts of the state, bringing to the total to 140 troops. These troops were tasked with sandbagging, protecting levees and keeping evacuation routes open. In July, he urged Illinoisans to report flooding damage to their counties in order to make it easier for the state to receive federal disaster assistance, for which the state could qualify if the total damage goes over $19 million.
In late June 2019, Governor Pritzker signed the bipartisan capital bill named Rebuild Illinois, worth $45 billion to be spent in six years. It is the first capital spending bill in 10 years. This plan includes $33.2 billion for transportation projects, including $25 billion for road upgrades across the state, though local governments will be able to decide which roads they want to prioritize, $3.5 billion for public and private schools and universities, $1 billion for environmental protection, $420 million for expanding broadband Internet service, $465 million for healthcare and human services, and $1.8 billion for libraries, museums, and minority-owned businesses. Financing for this plan will come from multiple sources. The gas tax will be doubled, from 19 cents per gallon to 38; the special fuel tax on diesel, liquefied natural gas, and propane will rise to 7.5 cents per gallon. Fuel taxes will be indexed to inflation. Vehicle registration fees will go up by $50. The state's bonding authority will increase from $22.6 billion to $60.8 billion. Gambling will be legalized, and the newly licensed casinos are expected to create thousands of jobs and deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for construction projects. Municipalities of Cook County may raise their own gas taxes by up to three cents per gallon. However, the Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot said she opposed raising the gas tax in her city and increasing Chicago Transit Authority fares. The capital bill also stipulates the creation of an apprenticeship program in the construction industry in order to provide part of the labor force necessary.
Transportation spending includes money for mass transit and pedestrian paths, with hundreds of millions going to projects involving Chicago. Some of the major projects are the reconstruction and capacity enhancement of the Kennedy Expressway ($561 million), expanding an Amtrak service between Chicago and Rockford ($275 million), and upgrades for the Pace suburban bus service ($220 million). Millions of dollars will be spent on strengthening the Chicago-St. Louis high(er)-speed railway, and moving passenger and rail traffic in Springfield to just one set of track, eliminating a physical barrier in the state capital.
As justification for the multi-billion-dollar spending bill and the accompanying tax hikes, Pritzker said that Illinois had not had a major infrastructure plan for two decades and asserted that improved infrastructure would help drivers on repairs.
On February 19, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed into law a bill that raises the minimum wage statewide to $15 an hour by 2025, making Illinois the fifth state in the nation and first state in the Midwest to do so. The bill includes a tax credit for small businesses to help them deal with higher costs of labor and maintains the ability of restaurant owners to count tips towards pay.
On April 7, 2019 Pritzker made Illinois the first state in the Midwest to adopt Tobacco 21. On Friday April 12, 2019 he signed the Collective Bargaining Freedom Act which protects the right of employers, employees, and their labor organizations to collectively bargain, ensuring that the State of Illinois complies with the National Labor Relations Act. On May 17,2019 Pritzker signed legislation that helped workers exposed to toxic substances.
Governor Pritzker signed the House 2028 bill, which passed both the Senate and House of Illinois unanimously. This bill doubles the compensation rate for families of officers of the law and firefighters killed in the line of duty from $10,000 to $20,000.
177 members of the Illinois legislature will receive $1,600 each in cost-of-living increases.
Pritzker refused to take on the City of Chicago's pension liabilities, believing that it would jeopardize the state's credit rating. Moody's raised it to one level above "junk" after the state passed a balanced budget in 2019. Pritzker did not reject the possibility of allowing Chicago to pool its pension funds with other parts of the state, however, and created a task force looking for ways to tackle the ballooning pension debts of municipalities across the state.
In late June 2019, Governor Pritzker signed an executive order requiring schools across the state to be "affirming and inclusive" of transgender and non-binary students. He also asked the State Board of Education to take a lead on the LGBT issue, by making resources pertaining to the legal rights of LGBT people easily accessible.
On May 31, 2019, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act legalizing and regulating the production, consumption, and sale of adult-use cannabis. On June 25, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed the legislation into law and will go into effect on January 1, 2020. (Till then, possession of marijuana remains a crime.) Therefore, Illinois becomes the eleventh state in the Union to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Criminal records of individuals caught possessing less than 30 grams will be cleared. Tax revenue collected from marijuana sales will be used to invest in impoverished communities impacted by the War on Drugs and in rehabilitation programs for drug abusers.
Along with the 2019-2020 state budget, Governor Pritzker also signed the "Fair Tax" law on the same day which will offer a constitutional amendment to voters in the November 2020 election to replace Illinois' flat tax with graduated rates. He promised that income taxes will not increase for Illinois residents who make $250,000 a year or less, which is to say 97% of the state's wage earners. Pritzker and his supporters said changing income tax laws was the first step towards a comprehensive tax reform in Illinois. The proposed graduated income tax rates are as follows.
|Income level||Tax rate|
|$0 - $10,000||4.75%|
|$10,001 to $100,000||4.90%|
|$100,001 to $250,000||4.95%|
|$250,001 to $500,000||7.75%|
|$500,001 to $1,000,000||7.85%|
According to the Governor's office, under this proposal, families and couples would see tax cuts across the board. For example, a family of four with making $61,000 a year would pay $41 less income taxes before any other tax exemptions or deductions. Moreover, there will be tax credit of up to $100 per child for individuals making less than $80,000 and joint filers earning under $100,000. The corporate tax rate would rise from 7% to 7.95%, equal to the highest personal rate. In addition, Pritzker wants to increase the property tax credit to 6% from the current 5%.
Pritzker claimed that his income tax proposal would bring $3.4 billion in tax revenue. As of 2019, Illinois has $8.5 billion of unpaid bills and $134 billion of pension liabilities.
The new gas tax that will fund the 2019 infrastructure plan, 38 cents per gallon and indexed to inflation, took effect on July 1, 2019. At of 2019, Illinois is home to one of the highest fuel taxes in the U.S.
As part of his plan to fund capital projects, Governor Pritzker raised the sales tax imposed on cigarettes by $1. However, given that Illinois raised the legal age of smoking to 21 statewide, government revenue from tobacco tax could be limited. The previous tobacco tax increase, also $1, took effect just before the 2013 state budget year began. By 2018, though, revenue from it dropped by 8% because fewer people smoked.
The 2019-20 budget spends $230 million on a new Quincy Veterans Home, and $21 million on the Chicago Veterans Home.
On January 22, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed an executive order giving state employees and women covered under Illinois state health insurance expanded reproductive coverage which also includes abortions. The move was praised by Planned Parenthood officials who also attended the signing event.
Pritzker supports Syrian refugees and has criticized the Trump administration and Rauner for "turning a blind eye on them". He also supports enhancing funding for immigrant and refugee services, increasing health care options for undocumented adults, improving the U-Visa certification process for victims of violent crimes, and providing access to financial aid for undocumented students such as DACA recipients. Pritzker has said he would sign the "Illinois Trust Act", a pro-immigration bill.
Pritzker has been a long time advocate of LGBT rights and has actively participated in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade. As part of his 2018 gubernatorial race, Pritzker has stated that his administration will address anti-LGBT hate crimes, expand LGBT access to healthcare, and oppose anti-LGBT legislation.
Pritzker is a supporter of net neutrality and has stated on his gubernatorial campaign website: "As governor, I will ensure that all internet traffic is treated equally so that everyone can continue to use the internet to grow their businesses, further their education, and enjoy the freedom of expression."
As president of the Pritzker Family Foundation, he funds research and programs focused on children in poverty. Under the leadership of Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, he supported the creation of the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago. Along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the Irving Harris Foundation, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Pritzker Family Foundation is a founding supporter of the First Five Years Fund, an organization focusing nationwide attention and resources on comprehensive, quality early care and learning programs for children from birth to age five. In 2013, Pritzker teamed with Goldman Sachs to fund the first ever social impact bond for early childhood education.
As chairman of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which opened in 2009, Pritzker successfully led the capital campaign and planning to build an international institution in the Midwest dedicated to teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides. Pritzker is the principal funder of Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, the most significant online source for news and commentaries regarding the international criminal tribunal created to bring to justice the perpetrators of Pol Pot era acts of genocide. He served as chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and was succeeded by former White House counsel and Federal Judge Abner J. Mikva. In 2013, Pritzker received the Survivors' Legacy Award for his leadership in the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.
In 2007, Pritzker and his wife donated $5 million to the University of South Dakota to build the Theodore R. and Karen K. Muenster University Center in honor of his wife's parents. In 2011, Milton Academy dedicated the Pritzker Science Center for which Pritzker provided the lead gift. Pritzker is a trustee and serves on the investment committee of Northwestern University and is a member of the Board of Governors of Northwestern University School of Law. He is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Commercial Club of Chicago.
On October 22, 2015, Northwestern University School of Law announced that J.B. Pritzker and his wife, M. K. Pritzker, had made a $100 million gift to the law school in honor of Pritzker's great-grandfather, Nicholas J. Pritzker. The 156-year-old school became named the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
The Better Government Association, an Illinois watchdog, has criticized Pritzker's charitable giving practices, saying he funneled the funds offshore tax havens. "The result is that Pritzker's philanthropy, and any accolades that go with it, have been bankrolled with what is essentially found money. He did little to earn the proceeds and paid no taxes on the bulk of it before giving it away," the BGA article states.
In 1993, he married Mary Kathryn "M. K." Muenster of South Dakota, whom he had met in Washington, D.C., when she worked as an aide to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota. She is one of three children of Theodore and Karen Muenster. Her father unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1990. They live in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago with their two children.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Pritzker had purposefully directed a mansion that he'd purchased next door to his multimillion-dollar home to become uninhabitable by removing the toilets from the residence. He then appealed his original property tax assessment, claiming that the newly-built residential property was thus "uninhabitable"; the Cook County assessor reduced the home's value from $6.25 million to about $1.1 million, which granted Pritzker an 83% property tax reduction, equal to about $230,000 per annum.
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|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Illinois
| Governor of Illinois
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Vice President
| Order of Precedence of the United States
Mayor of city in which event is held
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
as Governor of Mississippi
| Order of Precedence of the United States
as Governor of Alabama