Mixed reaction to governor’s address - Republic-Times | News

Mixed reaction to governor’s address

By on February 7, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual State of the State address last Wednesday in Springfield, touching on job creation, term limits, the state budget and property tax relief.

State lawmakers serving this area offered mixed reactions to the address.

The governor began with an overview of the triumphant moments in Illinois’ history before delving into more serious and edgy topics. Midway into his speech, he turned his attention to the state’s economy by noting that policies need to be put in place to recruit job creators.

“But this is not a prize one wins alone,” Rauner said. “It takes a collaborative effort, a forget-about-the-politics-and-roll-up-our-sleeves kind of approach. 

“It requires a laser-like focus on economic development and job creation and a bipartisan dedication to restore public trust.”

State Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) told the Republic-Times following the address that he shares Rauner’s stance on economic reforms.

“The governor correctly notes that none of our economic problems can be solved unless we make Illinois an attractive destination for job creators,” he said.

Despite his positive takeaway from the speech, Schimpf said there is more work to be done in Springfield to reignite the state’s economy.

“The governor correctly noted that last year’s tax increase did not solve the root problem facing Illinois. Simply put, job creators don’t want to come to our state,” Schimpf said. “In order to achieve long-term economic stability, we need the economic growth that comes from businesses choosing to hire people who live in our state.”

Rauner’s tone during the speech was in keeping with previous calls to bring reforms to workers compensation and the pension system.

“I don’t know anyone in this chamber, or in this state, who isn’t frustrated when we spend beyond our means, or borrow to cover deficits, or let pension issues go unresolved,” he declared.

Additionally, Rauner made an appeal to legislators to consider passing a property tax relief bill that would allow constituents to lower property taxes through a voter referendum.

State Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton) said he agreed that lowering property taxes is a must for the state.

“I will be the first person to tell you from a property tax standpoint we’ve got to do something,” he said. “But what I think we really need to do is change the way schools are funded so they don’t rely so heavily on property taxes. Of course, something like that is going to take time.”

Costello and Schimpf both confirmed they would support the idea of a voter referendum for property tax relief. However, Costello said Rauner’s supposed plea to come together in a bipartisan fashion on such efforts needs to go beyond words.

“We’ve got to find a way to work together. You know. It can’t just be words on a piece of paper and delivering a speech without a whole lot of enthusiasm,” he said.

For most of Rauner’s address, the crowd remained relatively calm, applauding on occasion when the moment seemed right. That is, until he brought up the idea of passing a balanced budget.

“The surest road to economic vitality and job growth is a collaborative effort to regain our financial integrity. To that end, I will submit a balanced budget proposal next month,” he remarked, which was followed with whooping and mockery from Democrats.

Rauner laughed at this display and followed with, “Maybe you’ll actually pass it this time.”

Schimpf said he is hopeful such a proposal from the governor will come to fruition.

“I certainly welcome the governor’s call for a balanced budget. We haven’t had a balanced budget in the State of Illinois since 2001,” Schimpf said. “Despite the massive tax hike last year, that budget still wasn’t balanced – it was actually $2.3 billion out of balance.”

Rauner is facing re-election this fall and will be opposed by Rep. Jeanne Ives in the March 20 Republican primary.

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years. email:sean@republictimes.net