Rauner talks budget issues at State of the State Address

Erika Ward

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner gave the annual State of the State Address on Wednesday to the Illinois General Assembly, with his prepared remarks focusing heavily on pushing bipartisanship and a complete and balanced budget, something Illinois has not achieved in the last year and a half.

“We haven’t had a state budget that is truly balanced in decades,” Rauner said. “We have more than $11 billion in unpaid bills, $130 billion unfunded pension liability, ad the worst credit rating in the nation.”

Rauner also said this issue isn’t anything new for the governor or even past governors. This is an inherited problem and has been for years.

“Years of irresponsible borrowing and deficit spending have been devastating to human service organizations that assist children, senior citizens, people with behavioral health issues and disabilities, and our other most vulnerable residents,” Rauner said. “It has caused student and faculty departures at our colleges and universities. Decades of undisciplined spending and uncompetitive regulations and employers have made employers hesitant about coming or staying in Illinois, limiting job opportunities across the state.”

One of the ways Rauner is hoping to better the state is by implementing term limits, which he already tried to do before by garnering over one million signatures to put term limits on the ballot.

“Unfortunately, our judges, who themselves are elected through our state political process, decided that a million signatures weren’t enough,” Rauner said. “They decided that only you, the members of the General Assembly, could pass the necessary legislation to enable the voters to have their say.”

Rauner’s prepared remarks also touched on the progress that his administration has made since getting into office.

“Despite the problems and uncertainties we face, I am deeply optimistic about the future of our beloved Illinois,” Rauner said. “We have big challenges and like many of you, I’m frustrated by the slow pace of change in Springfield. But with great challenge comes great opportunity. By working together, we can overcome any obstacle.”

Rauner said that one of the main goals that his administration has had since coming into office two years ago was to make the state a place of “growth and opportunity.”

“We knew that we could not simply tax our way out of our fiscal problems; we needed to grow; we needed to fix a broken system,” Rauner said. “We needed to make Illinois more welcoming to job creators; to restore confidence in government; and to ensure that all of our children could receive a high quality education and job training so they could obtain high-paying careers here, at home.”

The prepared remarks also focused heavily on education, saying that education is an integral part of making the state grow.

“Two years ago, we delivered unprecedented funding for our K through 12 schools, and the next year we came back and did it again,” Rauner said. “In all, our kids are receiving $700 million more per year from the state than two years ago, including an extra $100 million for early childhood education. The practice of proration has come to an end.”

Rauner ended his speech with one sentence to motivate the General Assembly for the rest of the year:

“Now, let’s work together to get the job done.”