Pritzker walks away from press conference after utility moratorium chants

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MACOMB, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker walked off a press conference in Macomb Friday afternoon.

Pritzker went to Macomb to discuss the Census and began by addressing the shooting in a dorm hall on Western Illinois University’s campus Tuesday night.

“I want you to know Western Illinois is on my mind,” said Pritzker. “We have an awful lot that we need to do and will do for the campus and as well as for this city.”

After several speakers encouraged people to complete the 2020 census, Pritzker returned to the podium to take questions from the crowd. When asked, he expressed concern about the WIU on-campus shooting.

“Obviously we’re all deeply concerned to make sure our schools, our universities, our K12 institutions and so on are safe for people to attend. It sounds like this was a somewhat isolated incident between two people,” said Pritzker.

A member of the crowd then asked if the governor would stop utility shutoffs.

“I think you know that from the very beginning, we’ve gotten most of the utilities in the state of Illinois to agree to a moratorium on shutoffs. It’s my intention to continue to lean on them to do the right thing. I must say though that many of them have stepped forward to do the right thing on their own. Some slightly more electant than others, but they’ve come to the table,” said Pritzker.

People in the crowd then began chanting, “No utility shutoffs,” and Pritzker was escorted away by staff.

Macomb community members are upset about the end of the utility moratorium in Illinois and believe Pritzker should use his power to prevent utility disconnections.

The Illinois Commerce Commission said Ameren and Com-Ed extended the moratorium on residential disconnections through Sept. 10. Several other utility companies have extended through the end of this month.

Pritzker said these companies elected to temporarily stop shutoffs during the pandemic.

“It’s been my goal from the very beginning of COVID-19 to make sure that our families are protected, from all of the effects, not just the health and safety that I’m trying to ensure for all people in Illinois, but also the financial effects of COVID-19 which have been devastating on so many people,” said Pritzker.

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