Elected leaders, organizations and think tanks all had something to say after a lengthy State of the State message from Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Here are some excerpts:
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon:
He said he was struck by the lack of response from Democrat colleagues to the governor’s vision for a better Illinois.
“The majority party in control of both the Senate and House failed to respond to Gov. Rauner’s call for structural reforms to government, which he again outlined in the speech before every senator and representative. Structural reforms are key to balancing our budget and getting our state out of its current fiscal crisis.”
McCarter said the lack of response tells him Democrat leaders want to continue the spend-and-tax ways that marked the 12 years of their total control of government.
“They are deceived into thinking that job creators – those who risk their financial resources – will continue to invest in our people. These entrepreneurs won’t do that. Illinois will continue to lose population as citizens leave for opportunities in other states and we will continue to hemorrhage jobs.”
State Senator Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill:
“The governor’s firm commitment to embrace school funding reform is a major, positive step to end this decades-old crisis, prioritize the real needs of students and ensure that every child has the same access to opportunities.
“I look forward to working with him, Senate President Cullerton and the rest of the General Assembly to finally fix Illinois’ broken system of funding public schools.”
State Representative Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon:
“Governor Rauner clearly laid out a plan to help climb Illinois out of debt and jumpstart the economy. In light of the budget stalemate the Governor made it clear he is ready to compromise if the Democrats are willing to meet him half way. He realizes the legislature does not agree on everything however we should be able to come to an agreement on something. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues this session as we discuss a plan to provide property tax relief, term limits, and workers’ compensation reform.”
State Senator Bill Haine D-Alton:
“I appreciate the governor trying to be more bipartisan and acknowledge he is willing to work with us on some issues,” Haine said. “However the fact is we are not paying our bills. College students are not receiving their financial aid, homebound seniors continue to suffer and mothers are lacking access to day care. I hope the governor is ready to sit down and engage in an open and constructive dialogue on these issues. I am willing to work with the governor in order to get Illinois back on track.”
The Illinois Health and Hospital Association:
“(IHA) and the hospital community are committed to working with the Governor and the General Assembly on workable solutions to meet the healthcare needs of the people of Illinois and to address the state’s challenges.
We appreciate the Governor’s recognition of the importance of healthcare in his State of the State address, including his focus on public health, value-based care and community-based services, which will drive better outcomes and efficiencies in our healthcare delivery system.
However, we are deeply concerned that without a state budget in place, the backlog of unpaid bills and delay in payments for critical healthcare services continues to grow, jeopardizing access to care.
IHA and the hospital community urge the Governor, legislative leaders and legislators on both sides of the aisle to find common ground to enact a fair and reasonable state budget for FY2016 as soon as possible, and to make the healthcare needs of all Illinoisans a priority.
We look forward to working with Governor Rauner on his healthcare agenda to ensure all individuals and communities have access to quality healthcare services at the right time and in the right setting.
Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman:
“Illinois is in a world of hurt. The resounding chorus from special interests and opponents of reform in Springfield is that all would be well in Illinois if only the governor would agree to more tax increases and just sign a budget. That thinking is completely wrong, and today’s address by Rauner is a refreshing reminder that he doesn’t buy that argument, either.
“Illinois’ deep problems did not begin during the last 12 months with Rauner as governor, but during the last several decades of House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and the rest of the status-quo political establishment. Now this same crowd is standing in the way of the very reforms needed to save Illinois. It’s time to face reality and accept that doing things the way they have been done for years has not worked and will not save our state going forward. Illinois must embrace dramatic change and reform, such as the ideas offered in Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda.
“Madigan and many Democrats insist that Rauner’s union reforms would hurt the middle class and reduce Illinoisans’ standard of living. But if things are so great without reform, then why do blue-collar workers in Right-to-Work Indiana make more than the same workers in Illinois? Why did Illinois have fewer jobs at the end of 2015 than it had at the start? Why hasn’t the manufacturing sector recovered from the Great Recession?
“Proponents of more tax increases think that stealing $3 billion, $4 billion or more from hard-working families is the solution. But we’ve seen where that got us in the past: The money never went to classrooms or social services. Ninety cents out of every $1 generated by the 2011 tax hike went straight to a bloated, broken pension system that puts the interests of retired government workers ahead of taxpayers, the working class and the poor.
“Opponents of reform claim that Rauner is ‘holding hostage’ the state budget over nonbudget matters. But consider this: Illinois could save $300 million annually by reforming workers’ compensation for employees of local and state government. Local governments could save hundreds of millions of dollars if only they were able to get around a restrictive prevailing-wage system in Illinois and instead engage in competitive bidding for public construction work. The rate at which people are moving out of Illinois has accelerated dramatically in recent years; on net, one taxpayer moves out of the state every 5 minutes. This massive out-migration from Illinois has cost more than $8 billion in annual state and local taxes since 1995. And consider what Illinois could be like if, instead of losing jobs over the course of a year, businesses viewed the state as a place where they could set up shop, expand and start hiring from our talented workforce.
“The governor signing his name at the bottom of another unbalanced budget won’t do anything to save Illinois from its looming economic collapse. Even signing his name at the bottom of a balanced budget isn’t enough to fix Illinois. The only way for Illinois to reclaim its place as a beacon of economic prosperity and bastion of opportunity is to enact significant, transformational reforms.”