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Pritzker stumps in Bloomington as early voting begins

91st district candidate for State Representative Sharon Chung introduced Illinois Governor JB Pritzker at a downtown Bloomington rally Thursday.
Charlie Schlenker
Sharon Chung, of Bloomington, a candidate for state representative in the 91st House District, was introduced Thursday by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker at a downtown rally.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said he's open to tweaking the Safe-T Act that will do away with the cash bail system in the state starting in January.

Pritzker's Republican opponent, Darren Bailey, claims the law will let people out of jail who should be kept behind bars. During a stop in Bloomington on Thursday, Pritzker said that is not the case.

"The Safe-T Act is about keeping people safe all across our state, keeping murderers, rapists, and domestic abusers in jail, not letting them buy their way out, which is the system that we had," said Pritzker.

On the flip side, the governor said moms who shoplift should not be kept locked up for months on end just because they can't afford a few hundred dollars in bond. Pritzker said the legislation is not done.

"You know Republicans act like they don't vote for amendments to bills. But they voted for thousands of amendments to existing bills and we're always willing to consider changes to a bill that need to be made," said Pritzker.

Five county states' attorneys are suing the state over the law.

On another matter, Pritzker said the state will finalize how to reimburse the state-federal unemployment compensation insurance trust fund by the end of the year. Critics have claimed the $1.3 billion obligation created during pandemic joblessness will cost businesses more in premiums and that unemployed people will get lower benefits so the state can repay the trust fund.

Pritzker told reporters the issue will be resolved by a working group that includes a variety of stakeholders.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and State Senator Dave Koehler (right) campaigned in Bloomington.
Charlie Schlenker
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and State Senator Dave Koehler (right) campaigned in Bloomington.

"As it always does, it's a combination between labor and businesses, some gives on either side. There could be borrowing associated with it. That's what was done 10 years ago when they needed to do the same thing," said Pritzker.

So far, the state has used $2.7 billion in pandemic relief money and another $450 million in other state money to reduce the debt. Critics have said the administration should have used more pandemic relief money to resolve the issue.

Pritzker came to McLean County ostensibly to highlight the first day of early voting for the Nov. 8 election, but it turned into a campaign rally outside the McLean County Museum of History on the downtown square.

"This is one of the most exciting transformations in a county that we have seen in many years. McLean County is a Democratic county," said Pritzker.

Close to 100 people heard Pritzker tout an increase in the minimum wage and other party priorities.

"We balanced four budgets in a row. We paid off all the state's overdue bills. We've gotten six credit upgrades. We've provided $1.8 billion in gas, grocery, and property tax relief for working families across Illinois. Pretty good!" said Pritzker.

Multiple polls show Pritzker leads Bailey overall and significantly in Illinois' metro areas, but trails the Republican in rural areas. Pritzker said a significant part of the state infrastructure bill benefits downstate Illinois, including rural areas.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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