From Governor Bruce Rauner:
Gov. Rauner highlights administration’s progress; sees economic growth as key to lower taxes
Report notes advances in education, economic development, government operations, health, criminal justice, ethics
SPRINGFIELD – In a constitutionally prescribed report to be delivered to the 101st Illinois General Assembly, Gov. Bruce Rauner said that critical financial challenges remain for the state despite important progress his administration made in education, government operations, healthcare services, technology job growth, and criminal justice.
“We have helped save billions of dollars for taxpayers and we’ve dramatically improved service,” the Governor said, “but if state government spending continues to grow faster than our economy, we will not be able to avoid persistent deficits, tax increases, and the out-migration of jobs and families.”
“Unless we implement major structural reforms to cause our economy to grow faster than government, our children could face a bleak future of ever higher taxes and lost opportunity,” he said.
The full report will be delivered to the General Assembly later this week. It highlights some of the Rauner-Sanguinetti administration’s achievements since 2015 in education, economy, government and political and ethics reform. The highlights include:
- Education: record funding for K-12 and early childhood education and equal funding for charter schools, expanded student apprenticeships, a historic tuition scholarship tax credit, and one of the best plans in America for measuring student growth.
- Economy: Record high employment, the formation of Intersect Illinois to recruit and expand businesses at no expense to taxpayers, reduced LLC fees and red tape and fewer regulatory burdens, clean energy job leadership, and dramatically expanded minority contracting with the state.
- Government: Moved state services into the digital age saving billions for taxpayers, eliminated forced unionization of government employees, negotiated 22 incentive-based contracts with state unions, won a $2 billion 1115 Medicaid waiver to vault the state into pre-eminence in mental health, prevented millions in Medicaid fraud and abuse, and cut prison recidivism rates from 50% to 39%.
- Politics & Ethics: Signed Executive Orders to curb lobbyist revolving doors and sexual harassment and prevent legislators arguing cases in front of the state property tax appeals board, championed term limits and fair maps and urged legislators to remove blocks to such majority supported voter initiatives.
Reforms still needed
The Governor’s report asked the 101st General Assembly to consider reforms that have been on the administration’s agenda from the outset. He focused on three reform initiatives that would help the state dramatically improve its economic performance.
At the top of his list is a plea to resist further tax increases and build a business-friendly climate that would help promote economic growth and support the development of the University of Illinois System’s Illinois Innovation Network.
“We have some of the world’s greatest research, engineering and technology institutions in our midst,” the Governor said. “We need to create a business climate that attracts thinkers, job creators, investors and philanthropists who key their success.”
Rauner also wants the state to allow certain counties/municipalities/high unemployment areas to create empowerment zones that do not require forced union membership. The move would put Illinois on the consideration lists of thousands of companies that currently pass over investment in Illinois. It would create many more good paying union and non-union jobs.
Finally, he suggested legislation to lower worker’s compensation insurance costs so the state is more competitive. The change would likely attract new manufacturing and technology job creators.
The report also made reference to the administration’s reform plan and Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti’s bipartisan Commission on Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates. Rauner said full implementation of these plans would save taxpayers $6 billion a year.
“We are proud of our accomplishments and we are grateful for the bipartisan support on education and criminal justice reform,” Rauner concluded.
“We know that the many initiatives undertaken by our administration will continue to produce major benefits for the people of Illinois for years to come,” Rauner concluded. “But there is so much important work yet to be done.”
“The path to a better future is clear: increase funding for education and human services, not through tax increases, but through savings in the cost of government and through stronger economic growth unleashed by cuts in taxes and regulations.”