News Local/State

Optimistic Tone, Praise For Senate Budget Efforts In Governor’s State Of The State Address

The Illinois Statehouse in Springfield

The Illinois Statehouse in Springfield, where Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his annual State of the State address on Wednesday. (Wikipedia)

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he is "deeply optimistic'' about the future of Illinois despite the state's problems. 

He addressed a joint session of the General Assembly on Wednesday with his third State of the State address. 

The Republican says 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 did not address the budget at the start. He opened his third State of the State address 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. 

Governor Praises Senate For Work On Compromise Budget Package

When he came to the topic of the budget, Rauner called on lawmakers to work with him to resolve the budget crisis, saying both parties agree something needs to change. 

Rauner says any deal to end Illinois' year-and-a-half long state budget stalemate must include legislation to improve the business climate, such as making workers' compensation insurance cheaper. 

He says Illinois' economy could "take off like a rocket ship'' if lawmakers could agree on pro-business measures. 

Rauner has insisted on those changes before he'll sign off on a tax hike to balance the budget. Majority Democrats have resisted, saying his agenda hurts working people. 

The governor says he's heartened by a bipartisan deal the Senate is considering and the Legislature should "build on that cooperation.'' 

Illinois Needs To End “Intolerable” Chicago Violence

Gov. Bruce Rauner called violence in Chicago "intolerable'' during his State of the State address and said Illinois needs to end violent crime in the nation's third-largest city. 

Rauner's statement came after President Donald Trump tweeted late Tuesday that he would "send in the Feds!'' if Chicago's high homicide numbers don't improve. 

Rauner called for a "joint commitment'' among city, county, state and federal governments to "find a solution to curb the violence.'' 

The Republican says Illinois State Police officers are helping the Chicago Police Department and have stepped up efforts to stop crime that has spread to the city's expressways. 

Rauner says the state must strive for a cure to violence by providing good jobs, eliminating slums with incentives for development and school choice. 

Democratic Response: Cut Corporate Tax Rate

In the Democratic response to the State of  the State address, Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang of Skokie said Illinois should halve its corporate income tax rate.

Lang says that's the way to help business and should ensure all businesses pay some taxes. 

He says Rauner's insistence on an agenda that benefits large corporations and hurts middle-class families has created budget deficits and soaring amounts of unpaid bills. 

Lang says the state can create more jobs by cutting corporate taxes, paying down debt, raising the minimum wage, reinstating a tax-incentive program for new businesses. Lang also cited imposing a surcharge tax on incomes over $1 million that House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago favors.