Billionaire Gov. JB Pritzker, seen as a possible replacement for Biden, failed to deliver on promised jobs for Black residents

Billionaire Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has failed to deliver on promised jobs for Black workers in the emerging cannabis and green energy industries, an economic advocacy group said in a scathing report.

Pritzker, considered a possible replacement for President Joe Biden at the top of the Democratic ticket, will host the Democratic National Convention on his home turf of Chicago in August.

“Governor Pritzker wants the Democratic National Committee to celebrate his leadership in the state. However, it would be an injustice to do so without acknowledging the deteriorating situation of Black communities, especially in Chicago,” said Darius Jones, senior advisor at the National Black Empowerment Action Fund.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has failed to deliver on promised jobs for Black workers in the cannabis and green energy industries, a new report says. Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune via AP

The group’s report, titled “Equity Delayed, Dreams Denied. How Pritzker Ruined Illinois’ Clean Energy and Cannabis Programs,” noted that the black unemployment rate in Illinois is the second highest in the country, at 9.4%, and more than double that of white residents. .

It is also more than 50% higher than overall national black unemployment, according to the report.

“The situation in Illinois cannot be blamed on national trends or factors outside the state’s control. “It is a direct result of the failed policies and negligence of Governor JB Pritkzer,” the report says.

“Governor Pritzker has repeatedly broken his promises to the Black community, particularly in creating wealth and employment opportunities in the green jobs and cannabis sectors, among other areas.”

Darius Jones, senior advisor to the National Black Empowerment Action Fund, decried the “deterioration of the situation in black communities, especially in Chicago” under the Pritzker administration. Instagram / Darius Jones
Pritzker signed legislation legalizing the use and sale of marijuana in 2019. Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Pritzker, 59, is considered a White House contender because of his multibillion-dollar net worth as heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, which would facilitate his ability to reach voters in a short time by potentially self-financing his campaign if Biden steps aside following his debate debacle against former President Donald Trump, the Republican nominee.

Pritzker approved the legalization of marijuana sales and consumption shortly after taking office in 2019, but the report noted that both Illinois and New York, which also legalized marijuana, have suffered from a rocky rollout and lawsuits.

Advocates said New York gave “social equity” or “simply involved” applications – those convicted of marijuana-related crimes before the drug was legalized – priority in licenses to open cannabis dispensaries.

Pritzker is considered a leading candidate to replace President Biden in the 2024 election if Biden decides to withdraw from the race. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

“In New York, the first batch of licenses issued were for those most affected by
cannabis prohibition, including non-profit organizations that assist former prisoners,” the report says.

But that wasn’t the case in Illinois.

“Today, 55% of adult-use licenses across New York’s supply chain are owned by those included in the state’s social equity program. The state also rejected Illinois’ path of allowing large corporations in; In contrast, the New York retail market is 95% made up of small businesses,” the analysis notes.

The report notes that it was not until November 2022, more than three years after the first dispensaries were authorized, that the first social equity applicants were allowed into the system in Illinois.

Only 1% of licensed dispensaries were Black-owned; and only 5% of Cannabis Suite executives were African American during the program’s early years, the report said.

The granting of cannabis licenses to minority applicants has increased over the past year, with the state now saying Black-owned businesses make up 27% of the market, after years of delays.

“A small improvement almost five years after a law was passed is nothing to celebrate,” the group said.

The report noted that Illinois has the second-highest black unemployment rate in the country. Joel Ángel Juárez/ZUMA Press Wire)

Pritzer also passed the Climate and Fair Jobs Act in September 2021 to curb fossil fuel pollution and create clean energy jobs.

But the report argues that job creation in the green energy sector has been a failure.

By fall 2023, the state was getting just 10.5% of its energy from renewable sources, making the law’s 25% goal by 2025 “seem far out of reach,” the report said.

“It is irrelevant whether he is an inept administrator or simply not interested in delivering for his black constituents. The result is the same. And the message is clear,” the report says.

“Pritzker is all talk and no game.”

Pritzker’s office did not immediately comment.

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