insight magazine

Capitol Report

Illinois in Transition

What will one-party rule bring to Illinois?
Marty Green, Esq. ICPAS VP of Government Relations


Illinois state government is in transition after Illinoisans voted in a Democratic trifecta, electing Chicago Democrat J.B. Pritzker as governor and solidifying the Democratic Party’s hold on the Illinois House and Senate. Will one-party rule bring needed change to Illinois government?

The Illinois Constitution provides that the governor-elect will be inaugurated on Jan. 14, 2019. Following the inauguration, Pritzker will assume the reins of state government and deliver his State of the State Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly, which also sets the stage for a future budget address. It is through these addresses that Pritzker will introduce his immediate legislative priorities. The enormity of all of this for a newly elected governor is further compounded by the fact that it all occurs within a few short weeks.

Recognizing the complexities of turning over state control to a new governor, chapter 15 of the Illinois Compiled Statues provides for “the orderly transition in the Office of the Governor.” Even before the end of a gubernatorial campaign, campaign policy staff begin establishing a transition plan in the event of a victory. During the short time between the election and inauguration, the governor-elect then must select a cabinet and staff and establish plans to execute campaign platforms, govern, and lead the day-to-day functions of state government.

As someone who has experienced the transitioning of governors firsthand — I was a part of a small team involved with transitioning Jim Edgar into office in 1991 — I can attest to the challenges ahead.

Pritzker appears to have hit the ground running at least. The day after the election he announced the formation of his transition team, chaired by Julianna Stratton, his lieutenant governor, which includes a diverse, bi-partisan group of respected political veterans like former Governor Jim Edgar, former Comptroller Dan Hynes, Rep. Christian Mitchell, and former Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

While much comes with the changing of the guard at the governor’s office, the Illinois General Assembly is set to undergo its own change. Over 40 new legislators will be sworn in for the first time when Illinois’ 101st General Assembly is seated on Jan. 9.

This unprecedented and historic amount of turnover in the assembly is likely to change Illinois’ legislative landscape considering Democrats secured a veto-proof super majority in the House and further solidified their veto-proof super majority in the Senate. With this influx of new legislators, I foresee an increase in legislation introductions, which could potentially have far reaching impacts on you, your business, and your clients.

Another part of the legislative transformation comes with the selection of new majority leaders in both the House and Senate. These important leadership positions were vacated due to retirements, creating an even greater leadership vacuum. Veteran legislators who currently hold key leadership positions as committee chairs will most likely vie to move up to the majority leader positions, while new rank-and-file legislators will be assigned to committees and other legislators with seniority will angle for assignments on key committees.

So, what does all this mean for the CPA profession? It’s difficult to predict just yet. What I can tell you is that we’re reaching out to the transition teams of Pritzker and Attorney General-elect Kwame Raoul, and all new members of the General Assembly, to familiarize them with the Illinois CPA Society and the CPA profession. We’ve provided them with transition briefing sheets on the regulations and issues important to the CPA profession. More importantly for now, we continue to communicate and work with legislators and their teams to position the Society and its members as trusted resources. This is a crucial and important time in state government as our newly elected government leaders prepare to assume their constitutional duties and serve the people of Illinois.

We will continue to monitor cabinet announcements and staff choices, we will continue to keep you updated on the reformation of our state’s government, and we will continue to make ourselves available as indispensable professional resources to our state’s leaders.

We thank Gov. Rauner and Mrs. Rauner, and all those who are exiting positions in Illinois government, for their service and wish them the best. And we welcome soon-to-be Gov. Pritzker and Mrs. Pritzker and their team, and all those new to Illinois government, and the possibilities they bring as they begin their new duties. Now, let’s see what kind of change occurs.
Author’s Note: This column includes my personal observations of the evolution of the legislative environment and are not necessarily the views of the Illinois CPA Society.