Creating more jobs, spending within the state’s means, ending the practice of borrowing to cover the state’s deficits, addressing the state’s pension crisis, and lowering the tax burden on families and businesses were some major themes Gov. Rauner pushed during his annual State of the State Address Jan. 31.
Calling for both parties to work together in 2018, the Governor highlighted issues where Republicans and Democrats both played a role in what Rauner says helped the people of Illinois over the past year. This includes the bipartisan education funding reform law, lowering fees for start-up businesses, enacting criminal justice reform, helping keep and attract new businesses, and fighting the opioid epidemic, among others. The Governor says that Illinois is in a “state of readiness” to capitalize on the state’s potential.
“We have the assets, and we certainly have the incentives: 12.8 million fellow citizens who want us to ignite our economy,” Rauner said.
Most of Rauner’s ideas are things he and Senate Republicans have been pushing for years, but the Democratic majority in the General Assembly has refused to advance most of the policies brought forward by Republicans. These include property tax reform, ending corruption within the property tax system, spending reductions, putting term limits on the ballot, and improving ethics laws.
“The simple truth of our shared experience is that we cannot tax and borrow our way into prosperity,” Rauner said. “We can and must grow our way into a more prosperous future.”
In December, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Illinois lost 33,703 people between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017, causing Illinois to drop from the fifth most populated state, to sixth. Senate Republicans say this is just another example that shows if Illinois doesn’t pass job-growth reforms and focus on lowering the tax burden on families and businesses, people will continue to move out of Illinois, taking their purchasing power and income with them, resulting in more local economies lagging and less tax revenue for the state.
“It is within our power to produce an Illinois that lives up to its resources,” Rauner said. “The seeds are planted. The work has begun. Now it is time to finish the job.”
Rauner will deliver his annual Budget Address Feb. 14.