By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker won plaudits for running a statewide campaign in defeating Bruce Rauner. Pritzker was always turning up in southern Illinois to campaign with downstate Democrats and was often seen at union halls.
That’s carrying over into the transition groups Pritzker and his running mate, Juliana Stratton, are setting up to help build their administration and pull the state out of the big hole being left by his predecessor.
Prominent in the transition teams announced so far are Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who will continue his leading role in improving schools, and Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea), who will play a key role on infrastructure issues.
Manar, a newly re-elected Labor supporter, is a co-chair of the 35-member education transition team. The other co-chairs are state Rep. Emanual “Chris” Welch (D-Westchester), Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson and Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin, of Schaumberg. Manar, of the 38th Senate District, is also a member of Pritzker’s budget transition team.
Members of the education group also include Dale Chapman, president of Lewis and Clark Community College; Ed Hightower, executive director of the Mannie Jackson Center for Humanities Foundation in Edwardsville; two vice presidents of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Jane Russell and John Miller, and other school administrators, legislators and child advocacy leaders.
HOFFMAN WEIGHS IN ON INFRASTRUCTURE
Hoffman, also newly re-elected and one of Labor’s leading supporters in the Legislature, will co-chair the transition team for restoration of Illinois’ infrastructure that will help develop a plan for the state to catch up on its infrastructure issues, including roads and bridges, broadband internet and community facilities.
“Illinois hasn’t passed a comprehensive capital bill in almost a decade, so it’s time we looked at investing in horizontal and vertical infrastructure improvements that will help our state thrive,” Hoffman said. “I’m excited to get to work on this committee to start identifying the infrastructure needs of communities across Illinois and crafting a bipartisan plan to rebuild our state.”
The 45-member infrastructure team will have a strong Congressional presence. Co-chairs include U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, the Democrat from East Moline who appeared here with former Vice President Joe Biden shortly before the Nov. 6 election and who was just elected chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; Rep. Dan Lipinski, (D-Chicago), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; and Congressman-elect Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, (D-Chicago). The other co-chair is state Senator Martin Sandoval, (D-Chicago).
Hoffman was already a major player on infrastructure issues. He is an assistant majority leader of the House, chairs the Labor and Commerce Committee and has worked on and supported much infrastructure-related legislation. He easily won re-election on Nov. 6.
FUNDING FORMULA REFORM
Manar over the past two years led the successful effort to reform the state’s school funding formula, which had been considered the worst in the nation. He also serves on the Senate’s education committee. Pritzker described him as “a tireless advocate for fair and adequate school funding.”
Manar announced formation of the education committee at a Springfield press conference. “Educating our children is a foundational obligation of state government, and that’s why I led the charge to update our antiquated K-12 school funding formula to make it equitable for every child,” he said. “We must build on that progress, and that’s exactly what this committee will do. J.B. and Juliana are laying the groundwork for a cradle-to-career success network for every Illinoisan.”
Labor leader Kathi Griffin said Pritzker has pledged to support collective bargaining rights.
“Serving on this committee means more than 135,000 educators and educational support professionals across the state have a seat at the table,” she said. “The incoming administration has shown a strong commitment to funding K-12 education, a promise to invest in higher education, and a pledge to protect collective bargaining rights. It’s the kind of agenda Illinois needs to get back on track for the sake of our students and teachers.”
EDUCATION TOP PRIORITY
Pritzker said education will be a top priority for his administration.
“Every child in this state deserves a quality education, regardless of the color of their skin, the zip code they come from or the income of their parents,” he said. “This committee will confront the challenges students, parents and teachers face head on and with fierce urgency. If we want to put Springfield back on the side of working families, we must give all students the opportunities they deserve.”
Manar, a senator since 2012, won another four-year term on Nov. 6, defeating Taylorville businessman Seth McMillan with 57 percent of the vote in a race that had been expected to be closer.