Gov. Rauner calls for bipartisanship in State of the State address


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Gov. Bruce Rauner asks the general assembly to not give up on creating a bipartisan and balanced budget at State of the State address Jan. 25.

By Eric Bradach

Though governors normally use their state of the state address to highlight their accomplishments in the previous year and announce new agendas and initiatives for the upcoming year, Gov. Bruce Rauner highlighted important triumphs in criminal justice reform and environmental protection bills Jan. 25 in Springfield.

“Despite the problems and uncertainty we face, I am deeply optimistic about the future about our beloved Illinois,” he said.

 Rauner highlighted the recently signed bill requiring all private and public schools and daycare centers to test water sources for lead regularly, and inform parents of the results, signed earlier this month.

“Reduce in lead exposure, which disproportionately effects low-income children and children of color, is a social justice issue,” he said. “So to is ensuring that we provide a means for those in our criminal justice system to rehabilitate themselves and return to productive lives.”

 Second chances should be provided to everyone, Rauner said. Noting Senate Bill 3368, which ensures any person released from the Department of Corrections or Department of Juvenile Justice to be provided with a valid state identification card upon release.

However, the governor said the positive reforms to the state’s criminal justice system have been overshadowed by the “skyrocketing” crime and homicide rates in Chicago.

President Donald Trump has been vocal and critical about the large number of homicides in Chicago.

 “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” Trump said in a Jan. 24 tweet.

But the governor has a different ideas for a solution.

“The violence occurring in Chicago everyday is intolerable,” Rauner said. “Violence experts say there is no single cause and no single solution, but with the right mix of policies with a joint commitment between the city, county, state and federal government we can and must find solutions to curve the violence.”

Law enforcement cannot solve the violence problem alone, according to Rauner. He said economic prosperity, education and vocational training for students will redirect the dilemma so “all young people can see a clear path to a career rather than fall victim to the gang recruiters.”

 While Rauner highlighted some signature achievements, the cloud hanging over throughout his first term, the lack of a state budget shadowed his 2017 address.

 Illinois has been in a budget stalemate for nearly two years, which has caused frustration and discontent from the Illinoisans with cuts to funding such as social services.

The state is confronted with more than $11 billion in unpaid bills and the worst credit rate in the nation, according to Rauner. He said these problems are not new and placed the blame on Democrats, Republicans, past governors and general assemblies for reckless barrowing and deficit spending.

“Decades of undisciplined spending and uncompetitive regulations and taxes have made employers hesitant about coming or staying in Illinois,” Rauner said. “Limiting job opportunities across the state.”

The governor said more than raising taxes is needed in order to fix the financial turmoil confronting the state. Again echoing his calls for frozen property taxes and term limits for state officials. Pointing to a petition signed by more than one million people, he encouraged the general assembly to approve term limits. 

“Illinois turns 200 [years old] in 2018,” he said. “What better time to give us a brighter next 200 years than by brining greater integrity to our political system.”

With budget talks within the Illinois House of Representatives in gridlock, there has been movement in the Senate between President John Cullerton and Republican Leader Christine Radogno on bipartisan compromises and the governor applauded their achievement.

 “Let’s build on that cooperation to achieve a truly balanced budget and changes that really move the needle on job creation and property tax relief,” Rauner said.