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Jay Robert "J. B." Pritzker (born January 19, 1965) is an American businessman, philanthropist, and politician serving as the 43rd Governor of Illinois. He is a private business owner based in Chicago and a managing partner and co-founder of the Pritzker Group, and a member of the Pritzker family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain. He has an estimated personal net worth of $3.4 billion.
The son of Sue Sandel Pritzker and entrepreneur Donald Pritzker, JB Pritzker was raised in the Jewish faith. JB Pritzker married Mary Kathryn Muenster in 1992; they have two children: Teddi and Donny.
After earning his bachelor's degree in political science from Duke University, JB Pritzker completed his J.D. at Northwestern University's law school.
In late June 2019, Pritzker signed the bipartisan capital bill named Rebuild Illinois, worth $45 billion to be spent in six years and estimated to create 540,000 jobs. It is the first capital spending bill in Illinois in 10 years. The plan includes $33.2 billion for transportation projects, including $25 billion for road upgrades across the state, though local governments will be able to decide which roads they want to prioritize, $3.5 billion for public and private schools and universities, $1 billion for environmental protection, $420 million for expanding broadband Internet service to rural Illinois, $465 million for healthcare and human services facilities, and $1.8 billion for libraries, museums, and minority-owned businesses. Financing for this plan will come from multiple sources. The gas tax was set to match inflation since the last gas tax increase in 1990, increasing from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents; the special fuel tax on diesel, liquefied natural gas, and propane increased to 7.5 cents per gallon. Fuel taxes will be indexed to inflation. Vehicle registration fees increased by $50. The state's bonding authority will increase from $22.6 billion to $60.8 billion. Newly authorized casinos are expected to create thousands of jobs and deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for construction projects. Municipalities of Cook County may raise their own gas taxes by up to three cents per gallon. However, the Mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot said she opposed raising the gas tax in her city and increasing Chicago Transit Authority fares. The capital bill also stipulates the creation of an apprenticeship program in the construction industry in order to provide part of the labor force necessary.
In 1993, Pritzker married Mary Kathryn "M. K." Muenster of South Dakota, whom he had met in Washington, D.C., when she worked as an aide to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota. She is one of three children of Theodore and Karen Muenster. Her father unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1990. They live in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago with their two children.
In 1998, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois's 9th congressional district, spending a half-million dollars from his personal fortune on television ads in the Chicago market. Pritzker finished third among five candidates in the Democratic primary, receiving 20.48% of the vote, to then State Representative Jan Schakowsky's 45.14% and State Senator Howard W. Carroll's 34.40%.
In 2007, Pritzker and his wife donated $5 million to the University of South Dakota to build the Theodore R. and Karen K. Muenster University Center in honor of his wife's parents. In 2011, Milton Academy dedicated the Pritzker Science Center for which Pritzker provided the lead gift. Pritzker is a trustee and serves on the investment committee of Northwestern University and is a member of the Board of Governors of Northwestern University School of Law. He is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Together with his brother Tony, Pritzker co-founded Pritzker Group Private Capital, which owns and operates middle-market companies. The group includes a growing family of companies including pallet rental leader PECO Pallet and medical device maker Clinical Innovations. In 2008, Pritzker received the Entrepreneurial Champion Award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce for his efforts to promote economic development and job creation.
In the 2008 presidential election, Pritzker served as national co-chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign. He was a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He supported President Barack Obama in the 2008 general election and helped bring the Clinton and Obama campaigns in Illinois together.
As chairman of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which opened in 2009, Pritzker successfully led the capital campaign and planning to build an international institution in the Midwest dedicated to teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides. Pritzker is the principal funder of Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, the most significant online source for news and commentaries regarding the international criminal tribunal created to bring to justice the perpetrators of Pol Pot-era acts of genocide. He served as chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and was succeeded by former White House counsel and Federal Judge Abner J. Mikva. In 2013, Pritzker received the Survivors' Legacy Award for his leadership in the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.
As president of the Pritzker Family Foundation, he funds research and programs focused on children in poverty. Under the leadership of Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, he supported the creation of the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago. Along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the Irving Harris Foundation, and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Pritzker Family Foundation is a founding supporter of the First Five Years Fund, an organization focusing nationwide attention and resources on comprehensive, quality early care and learning programs for children from birth to age five. In 2013, Pritzker teamed with Goldman Sachs to fund the first-ever social impact bond for early childhood education.
On October 22, 2015, Northwestern University School of Law announced that J. B. Pritzker and his wife, M. K. Pritzker, had made a $100 million gift to the law school in honor of Pritzker's great-grandfather, Nicholas J. Pritzker. The 156-year-old school became named the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
In May 2017, the Chicago Tribune published an 11-minute FBI wiretap of Pritzker and then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008 discussing campaign contributions and options for Pritzker to be appointed to statewide office. At the time, Pritzker was described as a "businessman with political ambitions". On the tapes, Blagojevich asked Pritzker if he would like to be appointed state treasurer, to which Pritzker, who has a background in finance, responded, "Yeah, that's the one I would want." Pritzker's general election opponent GOP Governor Bruce Rauner and Pritzker's Democratic primary opponents took issue with Pritzker's conduct. Pritzker responded to the allegations by stating: "I've not been accused of any wrongdoing. I have not done anything wrong." No allegations of wrongdoing were ever made by law enforcement against Pritzker, and Pritzker has said: "over decades of my life, I have been doing public service, and the opportunity to continue to do public service as treasurer of the state was something that had been brought up, and so there was a conversation about that."
On April 6, 2017, Pritzker announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois. His campaign received the endorsements of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, former Illinois Congressman Glenn Poshard, more than a dozen members of the Illinois General Assembly, twenty-one local labor unions, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.
On August 10, 2017, Pritzker announced that his running mate would be freshman State Representative and fellow Chicago resident Juliana Stratton. By December 2017, Pritzker had spent US$42 million of his own wealth on his campaign, without significant fundraising from any other source. On March 20, 2018, he won the Democratic gubernatorial primary, handily beating each of his primary opponents by more than 20%. In the November general election, Pritzker defeated incumbent Republican governor Bruce Rauner. Pritzker received 54% of the vote, while Rauner received 39%. Pritzker was well ahead of Rauner in most polls from the summer of 2018 onward, and won by the largest margin in a gubernatorial race since 1994.
On top of that, the Rebuild Illinois capital plan (2019) will spend some $3.2 billion for public colleges and universities over a period of six years. $78 million of that money is allocated to emergency repairs and delayed maintenance. However, because the capital plan relies on tax revenue on gambling and smoking, it will be a while before that money becomes available. For years, public institutions of higher learning in Illinois have struggled financially and have lobbied for increased funding without much success. Budget cuts and ballooning costs have been driving Illinois residents out of state. Tuition fees, room and board have doubled in virtually every state college or university since the 2003–04 academic year. According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, in 2017, 48.4% of Illinois public high school graduates went on to attend out-of-state institutions. That number was 46.6% in 2016, and 29.3% in 2002. Moreover, data show that Illinoisans chose not just colleges and universities from nearby states such as Iowa and Indiana, but also as far away as Alabama and Utah, lured by financial aid and scholarship packages.
Pritzker was inaugurated as the 43rd Governor on January 14, 2019.
On June 5, 2019 Governor Pritzker signed a bipartisan $40 billion balanced budget for the 2019–2020 fiscal year. This budget includes, among many other things, $29 million in additional funding for efforts to encourage participation in the U.S. Census. Public spending increases will be paid for by tax hikes. A separate bill signed by the Governor imposes sales taxes from online retailers, a tax on insurance companies, and decouples the Illinois state income tax from a federal tax cut for companies that bring their foreign profits to the U.S. This budget neglects any potential revenue that might be collected from the legalization of recreational marijuana. In addition, people who owe their taxes from between June 30, 2011, and July 1, 2018, will be able to take advantage of a “tax amnesty” program that allows them to pay without penalty.
In June 2019, Pritzker signed into law a bill that repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, which penalizes doctors for performing abortions considered unnecessary, and the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act. This new bill ensures the "fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about one's own reproductive health," specifically the right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term or to abort it, and denies a zygote, an embryo, or a fetus "independent rights under the law" of the State of Illinois. Pritzker encourages states that have passed restrictions on abortion to reconsider their positions and added that women from other states can seek refuge in his. Pritzker signed this bill at a time when the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalizing abortion nationwide could be challenged. This bill is known as Senate Bill 25, or the Reproductive Health Act.
In July 2019, Pritzker signed House Bill 2512. Approved unanimously by both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, it requires state universities to report what students pay in tuition fees to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. This is intended to increase transparency in the costs of higher education.
On April 1, 2019 Pritzker created the Youth Parole system for the State of Illinois.
In July 2019, Pritzker signed a bill that increases penalties for drivers who got involved in a road incident with injuries while texting. Under this bill, a person who causes serious injuries due to driving while texting could be fined at least $1,000 and have their driver's license suspended for a year. This law takes effect immediately. In the same month, he signed House Bill 2045, ending the practice of collecting a $5 copay for offsite medical and dental treatments from individuals detained at a juvenile correction facility. This will take effect January 2020.
On January 17, 2019, Pritzker signed a bill requiring state certification for gun dealers that was passed during the tenure of his predecessor, Bruce Rauner. It also requires gun dealers to ensure the physical security of their stores, to keep a detailed list of items on sale, and employees of such stores to undergo annual training. These requirements come on top of the mandatory federal license issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Proponents say Senate Bill 337 prevents guns from falling "into the wrong hands" while opponents argue it creates additional bureaucracy, imposes a financial burden on gun business owners, and will neither enhance public safety nor reduce crime. The Illinois State Rifle Association in particular argues that the bill violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution because it interferes with the right to bear arms and has filed a lawsuit alongside eight gun dealers.
In 2019, Pritzker approved of a tax on private insurance that will go into the state's Medicaid program.
On January 24, 2019, Pritzker signed an executive order expanding access to welcome centers in Illinois for immigrants and refugees. Welcome centers help guide immigrants on a path to citizenship and refugees with access to health care, education, jobs, and legal services.
On June 21, 2019, Pritzker signed a bill banning the operation of private immigration detention centers in Illinois. Another bill forbids state and local police to cooperate with U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) to deport illegal immigrants. Undocumented individuals who identify as transgender may apply for state financial aid. (Federal aid requires proof of citizenship and those who were born male to register for the draft.)
Pritzker erased the drug conviction of an Army veteran in August 2019. Miguel Perez Jr. suffered a brain injury while serving in Afghanistan and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was deported to Mexico in 2018 after spending seven years in prison. He had pled guilty to a drug crime and held a green card as a permanent U.S. resident. Perez's supporters hope the pardon will help him return to the U.S.
In June 2019, Pritzker deployed 200 Illinois National Guardsmen to combat flooding across central and southern parts of the state. These troops were tasked with sandbagging, protecting levees and keeping evacuation routes open. In August 2019, he officially requested a federal disaster declaration to be issued for 32 counties due to flooding in Illinois since February 2019. The request came after the state's disaster assessment was concluded.
On February 19, 2019, Pritzker signed into law a bill that raises the minimum wage statewide to $15 an hour by 2025, making Illinois the fifth state in the nation and first state in the Midwest to do so. The bill includes a tax credit for small businesses to help them deal with higher costs of labor and maintains the ability of restaurant owners to count tips towards pay.
On Friday April 12, 2019 he signed the Collective Bargaining Freedom Act which protects the right of employers, employees, and their labor organizations to collectively bargain, ensuring that the State of Illinois complies with the National Labor Relations Act. On May 17, 2019 Pritzker signed legislation that helped workers exposed to toxic substances.
Pritzker refused to take on the City of Chicago's pension liabilities, believing that it would jeopardize the state's credit rating. Moody's raised it to one level above "junk" after the state passed a balanced budget in 2019. Pritzker did not reject the possibility of allowing Chicago to pool its pension funds with other parts of the state, however, and created a task force looking for ways to tackle the ballooning pension debts of municipalities across the state.
On May 31, 2019, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act legalizing and regulating the production, consumption, and sale of adult-use cannabis. On June 25, 2019, Pritzker signed the legislation into law, which went into effect on January 1, 2020. Illinois was the eleventh state in the Union to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Criminal records of individuals caught possessing less than 30 grams will be cleared. Tax revenue collected from marijuana sales will be used to invest in impoverished communities impacted by the War on Drugs and in rehabilitation programs for drug abusers. After the first month of legalization in January 2020, marijuana sales had generated approximately $10.4 million in tax revenue for the state. By July, it had generated the state over $52 million.
On December 31, 2019, Pritzker pardoned approximately 11,000 individuals for low-level marijuana convictions.
The new gas tax that will fund the 2019 infrastructure plan, 38 cents per gallon and indexed to inflation, took effect on July 1, 2019. As of 2019, Illinois is home to one of the highest fuel taxes in the U.S.
On April 7, 2019 Pritzker made Illinois the first state in the Midwest to adopt Tobacco 21.
In July 2019, Pritzker signed House Bill 3343, creating a food program for the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless. Such individuals may collect their benefits from a private business that has a contract with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to provide meals with discounts. This is the state implementation of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The IDHS is to initiate this program no later than January 1, 2020.
On January 22, 2019, Governor Pritzker signed an executive order giving state employees and women covered under Illinois state health insurance expanded reproductive coverage which also includes abortions. The move was praised by Planned Parenthood officials who also attended the signing event.
On January 23, 2019, Pritzker committed Illinois to the U.S. Climate Alliance which will aim to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions over 26% by 2025.
Pritzker is a supporter of expanding the state's medical marijuana program and legalizing recreational cannabis in Illinois. In June 2019, he signed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law, which effectively legalized the possession and regulated sale of marijuana for recreational purposes starting in 2020.
Pritzker created a job training program for community colleges that will be funded based on the percentage of low-income students attending. It will launch in September 2020.
In 2020, Pritzker has taken a number of measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois. During the pandemic, Pritzker began delivering daily updates.
In June 2020, Pritzker signed legislation to expand voting by making Election Day a state holiday.
Currently, JB Pritzker is 55 years old. JB Pritzker will celebrate 56th birthday on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. Below we countdown to JB Pritzker upcoming birthday.