Reuters: New Illinois governor promises balanced budget for state

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Billionaire political newcomer J.B. Pritzker took office as Illinois governor on Monday, pledging to pass a balanced budget and take on the state’s “challenging” financial problems with “hard choices.”

The inauguration address by the Democratic first-time government office holder promised a new direction for Illinois, “with leadership that abandons single-minded, arrogant notions.”

“I won’t hollow out the functions of government to achieve an ideological agenda - I won’t make government the enemy and government employees the scapegoats,” Pritzker said in his speech.

A political impasse under Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, whom Pritzker defeated in the Nov. 6 election, left Illinois without complete budgets for two fiscal years, worsening the state’s already precarious financial situation that includes a huge unfunded pension liability and billions of dollars in unpaid bills. As a result, Illinois’ credit ratings were downgraded to a notch or two above the junk level.

Democratic control of the Illinois House and Senate, which thwarted much of Rauner’s ambitious agenda, is expected to aid Pritzker.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider characterized Pritzker’s agenda as “borrow, tax, spend, repeat.”  Click here to see the story