By CARL GREEN
Belleville, IL – Former U.S. Representative Jerry Costello is the latest political figure to endorse fellow Democrat J.B. Pritzker for governor of Illinois.
A longtime friend of working families, Costello, of Belleville, served in Congress from 1988 to 2012 and has been working as a consultant since then. In comments to the Belleville News-Democrat and KMOV-Channel 4, Costello said Chicago billionaire industrialist Pritzker would make a great governor.
“I have met with leading candidates in the race,” Costello said. “I believe J.B. Pritzer is the type of person who will bring people together to get things done for the Metro-East, southern Illinois and the state.
“He is the only candidate who has released a jobs plan to help the economy, rebuild our infrastructure and help rural Illinois as well,” Costello added. “He’s a uniter, not a divider. He has a plan to help our economy that we sorely need at this time.”
Pritzker will compete for the Democratic nomination in the March primary.
RAUNER HAS FAILED
Costello said incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner has failed in his first two years in office.
“We have a governor who personally I like, but either it’s his way or no way, and unfortunately, the people of Illinois are suffering because of it,” Costello said.
Pritzker’s wealth is “a factor,” but not the reason for the endorsement, Costello noted.
“I want to see a governor who’s going to lead, who will produce a budget, which Governor Rauner has not done,” he said. “I believe J.B. Pritzker will produce a budget, present it to the Legislature, and set out with Republicans and Democrats to negotiate, so we don’t have to go through this fiasco again.”
Pritzker has also been endorsed by the Illinois AFL-CIO and numerous local and regional unions.
In an example of Rauner’s failure to lead, AFSCME Council 31 reported that after cutting child care for 30,000 children in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Rauner restored some of the cuts then pretended the original cuts weren’t his in the first place.
On Sept. 19, Rauner said the Illinois Department of Human Services will broaden access to CCAP as agreed with the Legislature in 2015. Now families are eligible if their income is 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which means 16,000 more children have access to child care.
Rauner said he was “proud to stand with families who are working two or three jobs just to make a living.”
But Brynn Seibert, SEIU vice president for health care, noted it was Rauner who had made the cuts, causing widespread predictions of disaster that proved to be true. And the new increase is not enough, she added.
“His administration continues to implement back-door cuts that could lead to almost 15,000 child-care providers being purged in the coming months,” she said. “What good is a restored program if there are no providers to give care?”
A Pritzker spokeswoman, Jordan Abudayyeh, said “Bruce Rauner’s assault on early learning will have a lasting impact on Illinois children. Kids cannot get their childhood back, and providers can’t just resume services like nothing happened.”