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Governor Rauner Delivers Third State Of State Address

Daniel X. O'Neil

Gov. Bruce Rauner said he is "deeply optimistic" about the future of Illinois despite the state's problems. He addressed a joint session of the General Assembly with his third State of the State address.

The Republican said he is frustrated by the "slow pace of change." The governor has completed two years in office without agreeing to an annual spending plan with Democrats who control the General Assembly. But, he praised senate leaders Christine Radogno and John Cullerton for crafting a 13 bill approach to a spending plan.

"Thank you for working so hard for trying to come together on a bipartisan basis to find a compromise to get a truly balanced budget with changes to the system to help job creators and protect taxpayers," said Rauner.

The Republican said Illinois' economy could "take off like a rocket ship" if lawmakers could agree on pro-business measures such as workers compensation reform.

"We all know this is very difficult. There are a lot of arrows. Please keep working. Please keep trying. The people of Illinois need you to succeed," said Rauner.

Some have questioned whether Governor Bruce Rauner's public silence on the possible grand bargain on the state budget means he is not backing it. But, State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington said Rauner's praise for Cullerton and Radogno and their political risk taking in putting together the potential deal suggests otherwise.

"I heard from the Governor that the work that we are trying to do may fit into his vision of how we are trying to move forward here," said Barickman.

State Comptroller Susana Mendoza is blasting Governor Bruce Rauner's State of the State address as 'full of alternative facts.' Rauner said he has proposed many things to make Illinois more competitive and improve the economy in the last two years. But, Mendoza said what Rauner has not done is propose a balanced budget. Comptroller Mendoza said Rauner was able to find money for pay raises for top administrative staff, but not for social service agencies.

This raises the question, though, when Governor Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan will engage on the package? Senator Barickman said the deal is not yet ready to pass the Senate, because it does not propose a balanced budget, though the Senate has chosen to lead.

"We all recognize that the only communication that is happening in the capitol right now is happening in the Senate. The Governor acknowledged that," said Barickman.

Rauner began his speech by trumpeting advances in ethics reform and government streamlining. He says he closed the "revolving door" of government officials going into lobbying and tightened gift bans. He also applauded technology advances.  

Barickman acknowledged that all those issues are overshadowed by the lack of a budget

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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