Reactions are mixed across Illinois to Wednesday’s State of the State speech by newly elected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, with most of those weighing in with a willingness to work with him on the state’s problems.
Here is a sampling:
State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton:
“Today, Gov. Rauner laid out his vision for reforming the state. While many parts of his agenda are clearly still in development, I am interested in learning more about his plans and working together with him in places where our priorities intersect.
“However, there are some areas where we disagree. In the same way that we cannot solve our current pension problems by slashing benefits that employees have paid for and earned, we cannot balance our budget by placing additional burdens on middle-class families. Working families are the backbone of our economy and even during the most difficult times, they have found ways to support local businesses, schools, and social service organizations.”
Sen. Napoleon Harris III, D-Chicago:
“It is apparent the state has problems we must face head on. Pensions, revenue, labor, early childhood education and minimum wage are all important issues in our state. It is
Governor Rauner’s task to lead the state into finding real solutions to these problems. I intend to work with the governor in a bipartisan manner, but it is up to him to propose a
plan that works for all citizens of Illinois, especially our most vulnerable.”
Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said he is encouraged by what the governor had to say about job creation and returning Illinois to economic prominence:
“I love the word ’empowerment’ because that means there’s going to be an effort to let people have more control over their lives and state government is going to get out of the
way. What that means to entrepreneurs like me is lowering the cost of doing business, which will free up capital for me to hire more people and help build the community
where I live. That means jobs for our people. Wishing it so doesn’t it make it so but structurally changing the cost of doing business will allow us to grow our businesses and employ more people.
State Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge:
“I appreciate the governor’s commitment to investing in education and technical training. We need to fill the approximately 100,000 manufacturing jobs that are available in our state.”
State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, was “encouraged” by the speech and looks forward to the upcoming budget address in two weeks.
In his remarks the governor discussed many of his initiatives for the upcoming year including merging the office of comptroller and treasurer, bringing manufacturing jobs back to Illinois and improving the overall economy.
“It was quite refreshing to have an honest assessment of our state’s fiscal situation, Much of the governor’s focus will be on making Illinois a destination for businesses to invest and bringing jobs back to our state and I fully support that. For far too long we have chased businesses and jobs out of Illinois, this will be a welcome change. There is still a great deal of work to be done, but I believe the governor has made an important step in the right direction.”
Sen. William Haine, D-Alton:
“The governor provided us with a good speech today. Illinois is facing many problems, and it is important we face them head on. While the governor highlighted many of these
problems, I want to see his solutions drafted into legislation so we can discuss them with our citizens.”
Maryjane A. Wurth, president & CEO of the Illinois Hospital Association, said:
“The Illinois Hospital Association and the hospital community stand ready to work with the governor and the General Assembly on workable solutions to meet the health care needs of the people of Illinois, and to address the state’s challenges.
“Illinois’ hospitals and health systems have partnered with the state over the past several years to implement major reforms and cost savings in the Medicaid program. In order to stay the course and realize the benefits of these reforms, it is imperative that the state invest in health.
“Hospitals and health systems are not only essential to ensuring the health and well-being of all Illinoisans, they are also vital to the fiscal health of their communities. As major job creators and economic anchors, our hospitals and health systems employ more than a quarter of a million people, generating nearly 450,000 direct and indirect jobs and a total economic impact of $83.4 billion a year. One out of every 10 jobs in Illinois is in health care.
“Our hospitals and health systems continue to serve their patients and communities despite major funding cuts – more than $380 million in state Medicaid cuts since 2011 and more than $11 billion in federal Medicare cuts over 10 years.”
Americans for Prosperity Illinois State Director David From said:
“We appreciate Gov. Rauner’s forthrightness in laying out the challenges facing the state of Illinois and vision for making government more responsive to taxpayers. We applaud his vision for improving education, reforming workers comp and lawsuit abuse and reducing the crushing tax burden on homeowners throughout the state. Our 79,000 activists are eager to partner with Gov. Rauner to improve the future for Illinois families by creating an environment that encourages growth and opportunity and restoring Illinois as the economic engine of the Midwest.”
Americans for Prosperity Illinois is a group of grassroots activists advocating for economic freedom.
Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman said:
“Today represents a turning point for the state of Illinois. For the first time in a decade, an Illinois governor has offered a candid assessment of the state’s poor economic health and the quality of life available to Illinois residents. Gov. Rauner echoed what the Illinois Policy Institute has highlighted for years: Illinois is in a world of hurt.
“Since the recession, Illinois has had the worst economic recovery in the nation. Our state has the second-highest property taxes in the nation, making it tough for people to keep their homes. And we have a school system that forces children to attend a school based on their home address – not their individual needs. People have fled our state in search of jobs and a higher quality of life. Entrepreneurs can’t pursue their dreams here because Illinois has the highest business startup fees in the Midwest. Companies can’t flourish because Illinois has the highest unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation costs in the Midwest. Teachers, police officers, road workers and others who serve in government do not have the same rights as public employees in other states; in Illinois, they are forced to pay money to a union as a condition of keeping their job.
“In today’s remarks, Gov. Rauner acknowledged these severe issues that are preventing Illinois from being the economic powerhouse it can be. But even better, he vowed to reform them.”
On Feb. Gov. Bruce Rauner will present his much anticipated budget address to the General Assembly which will flesh out the his plan for the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.