Rauner visits East Alton during two-day tour promoting balanced budget
Gov. Bruce Rauner recently visited East Alton on a two-day tour of the state to speak directly to voters about his plans for a balanced budget achieved through reform.
Rauner’s tour placed an emphasis on the need for a balanced budget and the need for statewide policies that promote economic growth.
Illinois has been operating on a stopgap budget for more than 20 months, and negotiations seem to be at a standstill between Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly working to put a permanent budget in place by May.
The state’s Democrats are determined to help bridge the $6 billion deficit through increased revenue, derived through a raised income tax and expanded sales tax, among other measures. Instead of increasing the state’s revenue of approximately $32 billion, Republicans in the General Assembly are focused on bringing down government spending that has hit $38 billion.
In the Illinois Senate, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were recently cooperating on a deal, dubbed the Grand Bargain, which would have combined elements of both approaches, raising more revenue but also working to cut spending. Negotiations on the Grand Bargain recently stalled, however, with Democrats and Republicans deadlocked on the amount of reform to be enacted in the legislation. In the Illinois House, the Democratic majority recently passed a partisan measure to put another stopgap budget in place.
In his remarks to Illinoisans in East Alton, the governor commented on the need for cooperation between the two parties and emphasized the growing frustration of residents throughout the state.
"Illinois is tops again on the charts of [outbound] migrations,” Rauner said on his East Alton stop, according to a segment from News 4 KMOV. “The ‘Land of Lincoln’ used to be the land of opportunity."
Throughout his two-day tour, which saw Rauner visit suburban Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, Quincy, Marion and Robinson in addition to East Alton, Rauner pushed for cooperation between the state’s Democrats and Republicans. He emphasized that, as governor, he serves Illinoisans of both parties and that he was willing to compromise on some of the measures he’d like to put in place. But while he is willing to take some items off the table, he is firm in his calls for reform, saying that the state needs to enact changes that promote economic growth and make it a friendly destination for businesses.
At several stops, Rauner noted that Illinois lags behind its neighboring states in terms of job growth rates and has not seen net job growth in 17 years. During that period, the state has lost approximately 300,000 manufacturing jobs. At the same time, government spending in Illinois has increased by 66 percent.
To combat this, Rauner has developed his Turnaround Agenda, which focuses on creating a business-friendly environment in the state. He is pushing for various measures from the agenda to be included in budget negotiations, like governmental reforms to implement term limits for state politicians and to change the way the state’s voting districts are defined.
Further, Rauner is promoting local government consolidation – Illinois has approximately 7,000 units of local government, the most in the country by a wide margin despite the state only having the fifth largest population. These layers of local government, which each levy their own taxes, have led to high levels of taxation in the state.
Rauner wants to put a property tax freeze in place that could only be lifted if local voters determine it should be, and to cut the red tape businesses operating in the state have to go through.
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