Bruce Rauner took the oath of office as the 42nd governor of Illinois Monday, answering some of the many questions that hover over his first few days in office.
Rauner, the first Republican governor in a dozen years, highlighted his top priorities during his speech, specifically citing needs to improve conditions for small businesses, ethics in Illinois government, and education in the state. He noted his first order as governor was to freeze non-essential spending for state agencies.
The ceremony featured speeches from politicians, including Republican Congressman Aaron Schock and Democrat Congresswoman Robin Kelly, an inaugural invocation from Archbishop Blase Cupich, and a moment of silence for the late Judy Baar Topinka, who was elected to a second term as comptroller but died in December.
The new governor's swearing in will be followed by those of Republican Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti , Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White, appointed Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger and Michael Frerichs, the Democratic treasurer.
Rauner began his speech by thanking his wife and children. He also acknowledged his predecessor Pat Quinn before thanking veterans, servicemen and women as well as police officers and firefighters in the state.
“It is an honor to stand before you, before all the people of Illinois today,” he said. “I am humbled. I am honored. I am privileged. I am excited.”
Rauner first acknowledged his plans as governor by discussing difficulties for small businesses in Illinois.
“Today Illinois is not able to compete effectively with our neighboring states,” he said. “Our citizens are suffering because of it and in many cases they are up and leaving because of it.”
He said in the weeks ahead, he plans to ask the legislature to work on a “comprehensive jobs and economic package that will get Illinois working again.”
Rauner also addressed budget problems in the state by saying, “Some in government will be tempted to once again take the easy road and leave the real problems for another day and the next generation. But, we cannot do that because to do so, to conduct business as usual, would be morally corrupt.”
“Instead, we have an opportunity to accomplish something historic: to fix years of busted budgets and broken government; to forge a path toward long-term prosperity and a brighter future; to make Illinois the kind of state others aspire to become, a national leader in job growth and education quality,” he said.
As part of that, Rauner said his first action as governor will be to direct every state agency to freeze non-essential spending and pledged to reduce his salary to $1 and decline all benefits.
But beyond economic issues, Rauner said, were moral issues.
“To the people of Illinois, and the people outside our state who have been reluctant to invest in Illinois because of the insider deals and cronyism, I say this: ‘I’m nobody that nobody sent,’” he said before revealing plans to sign an executive order “that will improve ethics and accountability in the executive branch of state government.”
Rauner concluded by addressing education, which he called an “emotional and personal” issue.
“Illinois is our home – and right now our home is hurting. But home and family are worth sacrificing for, worth fighting for,” he said. “Together, let’s do the hard work to rebuild our home."