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Gov. J.B. Pritzker Talks About First Year In Office, Plans For Graduated Income Tax And Pension Reform

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There have been successes, but there remain some tough sells ahead for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Pritzker sat down with CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov to talk about his first year in office and what's ahead.

"I tried very hard to turn the ship in the right direction," Pritzker said.

With his first year in office almost wrapped, Pritzker hoped to talk highlights – including consolidating police and fire pensions across the state.

But that's in the past. Is passing his controversial progressive income tax up next?

Kozlov asked Pritzker if the graduated income tax was his number one priority for next year.

He answered" "Well, I want to remind you –I'll tell you a little story about something that happened before I became governor. I went to see Governor (Jim) Edgar, because I wanted to get some advice from somebody who'd been in the job about, you know, what did he think the number one priority ought to be for a governor?"

The governor would not commit – focusing instead on the importance of balancing the budget. But it is a priority.

Pritzker recently donated $5 million of his own money to a committee just for the purpose of getting the progressive income tax passed, and he has talked about passing it while also seeking property tax relief.

Realistically, is that something he can promise hand-in-hand with a graduated income tax?

"Again – remember what you're for when you pay your property taxes, and that if we can help with that, then we're alleviating the burden of property taxes," Pritzker said. "So the examples are paying for education."

And to critics concerned some families would see both an income and property tax hike?

"We need to work expeditiously to try to bring down property taxes across the state," Pritzker said. "I would also challenge the notion that you've suggested that people in the upper middle class are going to pay more. In fact, as you know, less than 3 percent of people in the state of Illinois under the plan that I put forward."

What about pension reform moving forward for state workers?

"We need to make reforms in our pension systems. There's no doubt about it. And I put forward a number of ideas – one of which we've already gotten done. In fact, on our state pensions, we have a pension buyout program that buys out retirees at a 40 percent discount to what their pension would be," Pritzker said. "That's a great deal for the taxpayers."

But Pritzker also says getting a constitutional amendment changed for pension reform – something that is also required for the graduated income tax – just is not realistic.

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