Gov. JB Pritzker talks corruption concerns during State of the State address in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker talked progress and problems during his 2020 State of the State address in Springfield Wednesday.

Pritzker drew standing ovations when he talked about corruption concerns that are hanging over the Illinois State Capitol.

The address comes one day after former state Senator Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty in a corruption case.

The governor touted job growth and the state's lowest unemployment rate in history, as well as tax cuts for businesses as a sign the state is rebounding.

"For the first time in a decade, we passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Rebuild Illinois will create and support 500,000 jobs in the state as we fix our aging and crumbling roads and bridges," Pritzker said.

He even had a rebuke for naysayers.

"I'm here to tell the carnival barkers, the doomsayers, the paid professional critics: the state of our state is growing stronger each day," Pritzker said.

WATCH: GOV. PRITZKER SPEAKS ON ETHICS REFORM
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Gov. JB Pritzker will deliver the 2020 State of the State address Wednesday in Springfield.



Democratic Rep. Will Davis expressed optimism after the governor's speech.

"The strides that he made in the first year, we did some incredible things last year so we are pleased that we are off to a good start but we know that there's still so much more work to do," Davis said.

House Republican Leader Rep. Jim Durkin said "the governor wanted to remind us that he's working with Republicans, not just Democrats to address the most important issues of the day."

Pritzker drew three standing ovations during his speech, including when he talked about the need for ethics reforms to deal with the culture of corruption.

RELATED: Illinois General Assembly to tackle ethics reform as Martin Sandoval pleads guilty to corruption charges

"Protecting that culture or tolerating it is no longer acceptable. We must take urgent action to restore the public's trust in our government," he said. "That's why we need to pass real, lasting ethics reform this legislative session."

The specter of political corruption and self-dealing sent shockwaves through Springfield with Sandoval pleading guilty Tuesday to taking $250,000 in bribes and agreeing to cooperate with the feds.

"And now we have to work together to confront a scourge that has been plaguing our political system for far too long. We must root out the purveyors of greed and corruption -- in both parties -- whose presence infects the bloodstream of government," Pritzker said.

Sandoval's case is just the latest to draw attention to a culture of corruption, which Governor Pritzker has decried. At the end of the veto session last fall, he established an ethics commission and pushed through changes in lobbyist disclosures.

Senate Republican Leader Sen. Bill Brady said Illinois needs "absolute transparency."

"I think his problem is going to be with his own party," Brady said. "They've been the party of, let's face it, the people who've left the General Assembly and been indicted are Democrats."

After the address, House Speaker Mike Madigan praised Pritzker's approach.

"I want to thank Governor Pritzker for offering a straightforward assessment of the state of our state. For the first time in a long time, we come into a legislative session with the opportunity to build on success," he said. "House Democrats stand ready to work with Governor Pritzker and our Republican colleagues to balance our budgets, enact lobbying and ethics reforms, make health care more affordable, expand educational opportunities to build an economy that works for all, and continue building a stronger Illinois."

Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter also emphasized the turnaround the state has experienced under Pritzker.

"From the approval of a bipartisan balanced budget to passage of the desperately needed capital plan, this Administration has found ways to work constructively with legislators to move the needle for working families," Reiter said. "Because of our collective efforts over the past year, the working class of Illinois will see higher pay, more worker protections, expanded healthcare, and a dramatically revitalized state infrastructure."

But Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider criticized Pritzker for "adding to our financial crisis."

"His priorities have made life more expensive for working families in Illinois, not more affordable. And in the midst of a mass exodus of people fleeing our state, Governor Pritzker's priorities will only serve to speed up our decline as small businesses shutter, property taxes keep rising, and middle class wallets are hit up time and again," Schneider said.

He also went after Madigan, saying "Mike Madigan has slow-walked ethics reform and refuses to support the non-partisan redrawing of legislative maps. Now is the time for Pritzker to show Madigan that the status quo in Springfield must change. I hope the Governor has the courage to do so."
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