Gov. Rauner To Take Optimistic Tone In State Of The State Address

Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Gov. Bruce Raunere talks to reporters during a visit to Franklin Middle School in Champaign on Jan. 18.

Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

Gov. Bruce Rauner will strike an optimistic tone in his State of the State address, while acknowledging Illinois faces "significant challenges.'' The Republican's Wednesday speech comes as he gears up for a 2018 re-election bid.

The governor’s office says Rauner will focus on Illinois' accomplishments, such as making government more efficient and increasing school funding. He'll also renew his call for lawmaker term limits. 

Lawmakers haven't agreed on a state budget for almost two years, leading to deep cuts to social services and higher education and billions in overdue bills.  

Rauner and Illinois' largest state-employee union also have been fighting over a new labor contract. 

Rauner is expected to cite a bipartisan package being considered in the Senate as evidence lawmakers can work together. But that agreement is far from a done deal.

Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago and Lemont Republican Leader Christine Radogno negotiated the 13-part proposal to break a budget logjam with Gov. Rauner. 

It includes an income-tax increase that many agree is necessary to tackle a multibillion-dollar deficit. It also includes provisions such as cost-saving changes to the workers' compensation program _ something Rauner insists on. 

But the quick action promised by the Senate leadership drew skepticism Tuesday when lawmakers appeared skittish and lobbyists lined up to testify in opposition to its provisions. 

Instead of committees hearing and voting on the proposals, they just took testimony. But Cullerton says he'll push for a Wednesday floor vote anyway.

Story source: AP