Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker visits Rockford, plans to legalize marijuana, raise minimum wage

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Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker was in Rockford on Monday, and says he believes legalizing recreational marijuana will go beyond creating revenue for the state.

Pritker met with supporters at Prairie Street Brewing Company, 200 Prairie Street, last night.

Pritzker, a Democrat, officially takes office on January 14th and says he plans to almost immediately introduce a bill in the House and Senate to legalize recreational marijuana.

Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, beginning this week.

Pritzker says that, before Illinois follows in Michigan’s footsteps, a regulatory system will need to be created, and to figure out how to expunge records for those who already in prison for marijuana-related crimes.

Prizker says most importantly, the new law will not only create revenue for the state, but create jobs for Illinoisians.

“We need to make sure we are very careful about the regulatory system we put in place,” Pritzker said. “We want to make sure we expunge the records of people who otherwise wouldn’t be in prison if the new laws had been in place. And then, importantly, we’d be able to bring revenue into the state as a result of now only the tax revenue that comes from the sale of recreational marijuana, but also the job creation that comes from it, because new dispensaries and production facilities will be created.”

The incoming governor re-affirmed his position on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Last year, Democrats passed a minimum wage hike to the Governor’s desk which would have gradually raised the minimum wage over the course of 5 years, but Governor Rauner struck it down with a veto.

Pritzker says he intends to push for a raise once he’s sworn in, adding that he believes a wage increase can help build up the Rockford-area economy.

“We want to be of assistance to you, here in Rockford and across Winnebago County, to make sure that we’re lifting up working families and creating jobs and raising wages,” Pritzker said.

The minimum wage is currently $8.25 in Illinois.

Pritzker says he believes a minimum wage bill will be introduced during the first legislative session of the new year.

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