When Gov. Bruce Rauner gave a speech at Gaelic Park in Oak Forest on June 15, he was met with protests outside from workers and officials from services who fear their state funds will be slashed.
But inside, the mood was friendlier as he talked about his five-point ‘turnaround plan’ that he wants the state legislature to implement before he considers tax increases to close the $4 billion gap in the budget that was just passed for the coming year.
“We are battling for the future of Illinois,” he told the business leaders and local officials.
“Are we going to stay on the path we are on, a long slow decline, or are we going to make changes? This is not about Democrat or Republican. It is about good government vs. (entrenched) insiders.”
The new state boss made a reference to some of the protesters outside the building.
“Change isn’t easy,” he said. “If you’re not upsetting somebody, you’re not making changes.”
Rauner also talked about the potential of the state and this area.
“We should be kicking tails in Illinois,” he said. “Business should be booming. Here in the Southland is the best location, we’re at the crossroads of America, with easy access to Chicago and Lake Michigan.’’
Rauner listed his five-point plan of workers comp reform; tort reform; a property tax freeze unless agreed by referendum; term limits for state government; and redistricting reform.
He said that Illinois, with New Jersey, has the highest property taxes in the country, and business owners leaving the state consistently point to the taxes and workers comp regulations as the reasons why.
“Are we going to protect the political class or the middle class?” he asked.
He said that despite what his detractors say, all five points on his plan are “directly linked to the budget.”
The event was sponsored by area chamber of commerce officials and Rauner suggested the chamber members to contact their state representatives and senators to urge them to pass the bills.
“Five new bills isn’t much,” he said, considering that 500 bills were already passed this year.
“This is all about the budget and fiscal responsibility,” said Rauner, adding that he would be open to a wide range of revenue increases, and getting an infrastructure bill passed quickly, if they were passed.