Gov. Bruce Rauner Wednesday called for bipartisan cooperation among lawmakers to improve the state’s financial standing through economic growth.
In a 30-minute State of the State speech to a joint session of the General Assembly, Rauner said the place to start that effort is by restoring public trust.
“Where once we joined to address our problems, we now divide to conquer the other side, or worse, we legislate for expediency rather than effect,” Rauner said.
Rauner did not, however, lay out specific proposals for achieving that economic development.
Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to roll back income taxes but did not identify how in his State of the State address.
The Republican has previously said he wants to reverse the income tax increase the Legislature approved last summer. It went from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. He said Wednesday that “we cannot tax and borrow our way into prosperity” and urged lawmakers to “curb spending” and boost job growth.
But he gave no specifics.
The budget address is in two weeks. No specifics on that were required today.
With the March primary just six weeks away, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday spoke calmly and optimistically about some of the state’s most dire faults, vowing once again to fight the state’s property tax system, while saying he’ll fight to make Illinois “the powerhouse job creator it should be.” […]
Of his accomplishments, which Democrats are quick to criticize, Rauner spoke of a school funding formula which passed last year: “We achieved historic parity in per-pupil funding for charter schools, and we created Invest in Kids, the state’s first-ever tuition tax credit scholarship program.” […]
He also spoke of criminal justice reforms, and his goal to reduce the prison population. Rauner, too, said, he’s helped to battle the state’s opioid epidemic by enacting a 24/7 helpline.
Rauner brought two residents of the Quincy veterans’ home, which came under fire after several deadly Legionnaires’ outbreaks. That issue had put the governor in the hot seat over how the state handled a 2016 outbreak. Rauner last month spent a week at the home, saying he wanted to get to know the residents and to learn best practices to ensure they were as safe as possible.
Rauner used the word “veterans” seven times today. He didn’t mention them in 2015 or 2017, but they did get a shoutout in 2016.
The speech was designed to set the stage for a re-election battle in which Rauner is defending his first three years in office while he asks voters to give him another four. To that aim, the address attempted to weave an optimistic tone while also speaking to voters’ frustrations about the state’s economic and political climate. […]
“To that end, I will submit a balanced budget proposal next month. It will offer a path to reduced spending, and it will show the way to surpluses going forward so we can reduce taxes and start to push back against the assault on middle-class bank accounts,” the governor said.
Democrats stood and offered mock applause, including one of his biggest critics, Comptroller Susana Mendoza. Democrats and some experts have long said Rauner has yet to submit a balanced budget, although Democrats have repeatedly advanced out-of-balanced budgets themselves.
Replied Rauner: “And I hope this year you guys will pass it instead of ignoring it.” He drew jeers from within the chamber.
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton, who appeared on public television following the speech, said Rauner’s promise of a balanced spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 was met with laughter.
“The reason why people couldn’t keep a straight face when he said he was going to introduce a balanced budget is because (Rauner) has never been even close to a balanced budget,” Cullerton said.
Rauner has said he wants to roll back the $5 billion income tax hike even as the state’s payment to its five pension systems is projected to grow to $8.5 billion in fiscal 2019 from $7.94 billion this year. Illinois also has a lingering $8.5 billion unpaid bill backlog that had ballooned to more than $16 billion during the impasse.
Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual State of the State Address to a joint session of the General Assembly.
Rauner said the State of the State is one of readiness and he was hoping out loud that the Democrats in control would give him what they have refused to give him before, such as term limits.
“80% of Illinois’ voters want term limits. The other 20% it seems are seated in this chamber.”