Gov. Bruce Rauner gave his State of the State address Wednesday, presenting a jobs and economic growth plan before lawmakers in Springfield.
He also called for more prison guards, a reform of the parole system and investments in a state program that keeps non-violent offenders out of prison.
Politicians from both sides of the table were quick to react to the new governor’s speech.
Senate President John J. Cullerton
“The state of the state is the governor’s opportunity to give the people of Illinois a fact-based assessment of where we are and where we are going. Unfortunately, too much of the governor’s opportunity was squandered with campaign rhetoric that denigrates the reputation of the state. Illinois has made progress since the Great Recession. With each speech that Governor Rauner delivers, I am reminded that the new governor has a lot to learn if he is to build on our successes in Medicaid reform, workers compensation, pension reform, cutting the bill backlog and meeting our obligations.
“All of those successes have been bipartisan, but there is still much more work to do. We are going to have to work together to find fiscal solutions that fully fund education, fuel economic growth and meet the diverse needs of working families needing higher wages and child care now. Talk is cheap, but these priorities will require targeted investments. The people of this state elected a divided government, but the governor will soon learn that it doesn’t mean that he needs to be divisive. As he begins to shape his budget, one of his principal tasks will be to identify common ground with the legislature as we all keep working for a better Illinois.”
Senate Majority Caucus Whip Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)
“The governor needs to realize these problems are his problems, too. Residents who work hard every day, providing for their families, are waiting for real answers. I want to work with the governor. However, his actions aren’t keeping up with his rhetoric. Cutting $7 million from at-risk youth employment grants doesn’t make our state competitive. Nor, is it compassionate. We need to find common ground solutions. Paying people less and cutting services just doesn’t add up to me.”
State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield)
“I agree that making Illinois more competitive for business while still protecting our state’s most vulnerable residents should be a top priority. The best way to accomplish those goals is to end our perpetual budget crisis. Both businesses and families crave stability, and I look forward to hearing the governor’s plan in two weeks.”
State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th)
“I’ve been in the business of improving Illinois for many years now. We’ve abolished the death penalty, overhauled workers’ compensation, protected voting rights and expanded minority participation in state contracts. I welcome Gov. Rauner to the effort. I’m ready to work with anyone who comes to the table with reasonable ideas and a willingness to compromise.
“I do want to see more specifics and a detailed blueprint for where he is proposing to lead the state. The time for bashing Illinois and focusing on past problems is over; it’s time to govern this great state and start shaping its future. Gov. Rauner has reached out to me for input on our next steps in criminal justice reform, and this is an area where we can find common ground. I’m very pleased with the initial indications of the Rauner administration’s direction on this issue – both in his words today and the individuals he has chosen to advise him. I look forward to working with the governor on a more just, humane and fiscally responsible approach to public safety.”
State Sen. Melinda Bush
“I want to work with the governor to find the common ground to solve Illinois’ problems. To do that, we need specifics. Bush urged Gov. Rauner to present a clearer picture in his upcoming budget address. I’m interested in the particulars of Gov. Rauner’s plan for the state’s future,” Bush said. “We agree there’s work to be done. It’s time we started to work together to do it.”
State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood)
"The Governor had a very bold and sincere message today. I applaud his persistence at making Illinois a business-friendly state and I am eager to work toward these efforts. I am also pleased with his strong focus on education; I will carefully listen and evaluate his ideas. However, his attacks on public employees and organized labor is concerning. Protecting the middle class means protecting the very people he is ostracizing. I am committed to working in a bipartisan manner to make Illinois a better place, while preserving working class values."
Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago)
“We’ve been addressing the challenges facing Illinois for the past four years due to decades of neglect, mismanagement and abuse. I look forward to working with the governor to continue finding solutions to our ongoing challenges without decimating the hard-working middle class."
Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago)
"The campaign is over and it is time to find common ground on how to move Illinois forward. While I was pleased that the governor discussed hiring more minorities for construction projects and apprenticeship programs, his words are inconsistent with the actions of an administration that has fired many Latinos in high-level policymaking positions. Furthermore, I do not think attacking working families and public employees and eroding their hard earned pay and protections will lead to a better future for the residents of Illinois. Instead, I think we should do what the voters overwhelmingly supported during the November election and raise the state’s minimum wage, which will help workers become financially independent. I pledge to carefully evaluate the governor’s proposals during this legislative session, and I look forward to hearing more details during his budget address."