Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his third State of the State address in Springfield Wednesday, bemoaning Illinois’ ongoing budget stalemate and highlighting the state’s recent accomplishments.
“We know that much in our state has been broken for many, many years; but we know that there is a way forward — there is a path to a better future for all Illinois families,” Rauner said.
During his speech, Rauner remained optimistic about a bipartisan budget deal being presented by Senate leaders.
The plan, devised by Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, is comprised of a series of interdependent bills that outline tax hikes, a statewide minimum wage increase, reforms to the state’s workers’ compensation system, and a two-year property tax freeze, among other measures.
“It’s heartening to see the Senate coming together on a bipartisan basis to acknowledge these changes are needed,” Rauner said. “Let’s build on that cooperation to achieve a truly balanced budget and changes that really move the needle on job creation and property tax relief."
All 13 or so proposed bills must be passed for any of the bills to take effect. The Senate Executive Committee discussed a variety of those measures during Tuesday's meeting, but didn't take action on elements of the package, which seeks to end the state’s nearly two-yearlong stalemate. The impasse has led to deep cuts to social services and higher education, as well as a massive backlog of billions of dollars in unpaid bills.
Nevertheless, Rauner lobbied for improvements to the state’s schools and touched on Chicago’s violent crime crisis.
"Addressing the roots of this plague will take much more: to restore hope where hope has been lost, to build a long-term future of quality education and good jobs for communities that need it most,” Rauner said.
"Tearing down the barriers to good jobs and economic opportunity,” he added. "Getting rid of blight and incentivizing redevelopment. Making sure both the state and Chicago Public Schools treat low-income kids the same as high-income kids. Giving parents more choices and support to give their kids a world class education. Putting vocational training back into our high schools so young people can see a clear path to a career rather than falling victim to the gang recruiters."
Rauner pointed to certain accomplishments, like a $700 million increase in funding for K-12 education from two years ago, as well as ethics reform measures like tightening restrictions on lobbying and posting state contracts online for the public.
The governor also once again urged lawmakers to pass elements of his turnaround agenda, like redistricting reform and term limits.
"Our state’s economy could take off like a rocket ship if we could just come together on major pro-jobs changes that need legislation to take effect,” Rauner said. “Lawmakers from both parties deserve credit for working for many months to find ways to reduce regulatory costs and property tax burdens that make businesses in Illinois less competitive than our neighbors. Hopefully we can build upon these initial proposals to ensure they drive big results on job creation.”
"And hopefully we can work together to cut the red tape even more – reducing filing fees and costly licensing barriers that prevent hard-working Illinoisans from qualifying for good, high-paying jobs,” Rauner continued.
Rauner ultimately preached bipartisanship and unity Wednesday, claiming “Illinois is home.”
“All of us love it here,” Rauner said. “Ultimately, we all want the same things for our home — good jobs, strong schools and safe communities — it’s just a question of respecting each other’s views on how we get there.”
“If we negotiate in good faith, we can move Illinois forward as a state which is both competitive and passionate,” the governor added.