What Others are Saying: Reaction to Governor’s State of the State Address

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Not long after Governor Bruce Rauner (R-IL) wrapped up his ‘State of the State’ address, various unions and public policy organizations weighed in.  If their responses are indicative of the general feeling by various constituencies and their lawmakers, it would appear that little legislative progress will be made in the coming legislative session.

Read these excerpts of statements from both Democratic and Republican leaning organizations and see with whom you agree most.

From the SEIU Healthcare union:

“The governor has caused massive cuts to the social safety net in Illinois as part of a scheme to enact his “Turnaround Agenda” to lower wages and worker protections. And it has been people of color and women who have disproportionately borne the brunt of his scorched-earth strategy.

Home healthcare and child care have been particularly harmed by this governor, both by unilateral administrative rule; through the budget process; and at the bargaining table. The governor is quick to point out that he didn’t cause the long-term structural problems facing Illinois. But there can be no question that he has made things worse. And now, instead of asking for shared sacrifice, it looks like he once again is seeking to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children, working families, people with disabilities, women and people of color.

“Rauner might have no conception of the suffering he has caused, but as he continues to push his extreme agenda at the cost of vulnerable Illinoisans and workers, it increasingly looks like he’s in a state of denial.”

From the IFT Teacher’s union:

“Try as he might to distract from it today, Governor Rauner can’t escape his failure to fulfill his primary responsibility — to negotiate and enact a state budget.

His calls for bipartisanship are difficult to take seriously, especially given his identical words last year and his unwillingness or inability to lead since. Colleges and social services are making drastic cuts and average citizens are suffering while the Governor refuses to negotiate or ask the wealthiest to pay a dime more, despite a majority of Illinois voters who support exactly that.

We also heard another list of so-called education reforms today, the vast majority of which do nothing to improve teaching, learning, or student success. We agree that we need to better fund our schools, but we reject the Governor’s demand that change must be contingent on his political agenda to weaken the rights and voices of working people, whom he’s been attacking relentlessly.

What we didn’t hear today was a real plan to address revenue for public schools and services or the funding crisis in higher education.  Our teachers, faculty, and staff go to work each day trying to help others, trying to educate our children, trying to resolve – not create – conflict. If he truly wants to work together and address our state’s problems, Governor Rauner could learn a thing or two from them.”

From the Illinois Policy Institute:

“Illinois is in a world of hurt. The resounding chorus from special interests and opponents of reform in Springfield is that all would be well in Illinois if only the governor would agree to more tax increases and just sign a budget. That thinking is completely wrong, and today’s address by Rauner is a refreshing reminder that he doesn’t buy that argument, either.

Illinois’ deep problems did not begin during the last 12 months with Rauner as governor, but during the last several decades of House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and the rest of the status-quo political establishment. Now this same crowd is standing in the way of the very reforms needed to save Illinois. It’s time to face reality and accept that doing things the way they have been done for years has not worked and will not save our state going forward. Illinois must embrace dramatic change and reform, such as the ideas offered in Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda.

Proponents of more tax increases think that stealing $3 billion, $4 billion or more from hard-working families is the solution. But we’ve seen where that got us in the past: The money never went to classrooms or social services. Ninety cents out of every $1 generated by the 2011 tax hike went straight to a bloated, broken pension system that puts the interests of retired government workers ahead of taxpayers, the working class and the poor.”

From the conservative think tank ‘Americans for Prosperity.’

“Governor Bruce Rauner understands what Illinoisans rightly think; state government is inefficient and spends too much, taxpayers are overtaxed and Illinois can grow again if our leaders decide to reject the status quo and transform our state government. In today’s speech, the governor laid out proposals that, if acted upon, will save taxpayer money, grow the economy and make Illinoisans’ lives better. In particular, we applaud Governor Rauner’s continued call for a property tax freeze that includes local cost controls so that homeowners and businesses can receive badly needed relief from the second-highest property tax burden in the nation.

Likewise, the recommendations for the elimination of some of our highest-in-the-nation units of local government, including pension reform, education reform and procurement reform seek to make Illinois work better for taxpayers.

Legislative leaders should embrace these proposals as ways to reduce spending and make government more efficient, rather than continuing down the well-worn path of demanding more tax hikes on beleaguered taxpayers. The governor’s proposals focus on some of the areas of state government that need the most attention. Taxpayers and homeowners, as well as our children, deserve better than the status quo.”

From the Illinois Trial Lawyer’s Association:

“In his State of the State address today, Gov. Rauner renewed his attack on our courts and his demand that lawmakers roll back the financial safeguards that our state’s workers’ compensation and tort systems afford to the vast majority of Illinoisans.

Across Illinois, seniors, individuals with disabilities and other vulnerable citizens are going without vital services because Gov. Rauner is holding the budget hostage until he succeeds in upending our legal system – among other items in his agenda. Yet his proposals relating to workers’ compensation and tort cases would do nothing to improve the state’s financial standing or fund the state services necessary to support individuals in need of critical assistance.

The governor and his big business and insurance supporters continue their push to undercut the rights of injured workers in order to maximize insurance industry profits. They ignore the fact that the 2011 rewrite of the workers’ compensation system – those changes sought by the business community, and which were largely to the detriment of men and women injured on the job – is producing the desired result: lower costs for insurance companies and employers.”

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