GOP lawmakers mixed on Rauner's State of the State address
Illinois Republican lawmakers' reviews of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address were mixed with optimism and concern.
Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) said though the speech that touched on Illinois' most recent controversial issues including sexual harassment, Legionnaires' disease and property tax reform was good, he is still weary.
“I am very concerned because Illinois has great opportunities,” Oberweis said, adding the state has some of the best farmland in the world and state universities, transportation and tourism in the United States. “But the politicians keep screwing it up.”
Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) said he was heartened by the annual address, especially when Rauner received an overwhelming ovation.
“The governor called for a true balanced budget this next fiscal year, that both sides stood up and applauded and I was really encouraged by that,” Fowler said, adding pro-business reform and property tax and workers' compensation relief must remain on the forefront. “I am really excited about 2018.”
Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore) was also encouraged, specifically noting the governor’s address opening listing Illinois assets.
“To many people look at the negative and that is a lot of the reason they are leaving the state when there is a lot of reason to be attracted here, stay here and live and work here,” Pritchard said.
While Rauner’s talk about restoring citizen trust was also a plus, his balanced-budget discussion including removing fraud and lowering taxes moved Pritchard, as it did Fowler.
Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Murphysboro) said he had three main takeaways.
“First, I was really glad that the governor reminded everybody that we have a lot of talent and resources in Illinois and what is right with Illinois can fix anything that is wrong with Illinois,” Schimpf said, adding his second point of interest was the governor’s discussion on bipartisan teamwork needed to regain citizen trust.
“The third and final takeaway, and it goes without saying, is we do not grow our economy by expanding government or raising taxes,” Schimpf said.
Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) said though the governor talked about the “good news” of Illinois’ rich history, growing economy, expanding manufacturing and more job creation, “he did talk about what Illinois still has to do.”
“We have to get government living within its means and we cant keep thinking raising taxes is the solution,” Syverson said. “He talked about growing our way into prosperity, and we can do that, we have proven that in the past.”
Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Moline) said it was a great speech on “where we need to go.”
“It’s up to us now as legislators to fill that gap,” Anderson said. “It all comes down to communication with the other side of the aisle and figuring out where the middle ground is on a lot of these reforms and issues we are facing.”
Sen. Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria) liked a quote Rauner gave.
“He said, ‘Turn yesterday into tomorrow,’ and what he was talking about was the amazing assets we have in our state,” Weaver said.
One of those assets is Illinois has the 17th largest economy in the world.
“But when you think of that, you have people leaving the state, so there is a problem with that,” Weaver said. “We have tremendous things ahead of us, but we have to get our political process fixed.”
Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) said when the governor was giving his speech, the sense in the chamber was "Groundhog Day."
“Once again the governor is up lecturing the Democratic majority that it is important to have a growing economy and give individuals and families a chance at a job in which they can support themselves and their families,” Righter said. “Those are basics that most other states and legislators get and my hope is that this year it penetrates on the Democratic leadership and we actually move the state forward.”
Sen. Tom Rooney (R-Rolling Meadows) said his ears perked up when he heard “united we can create thousands and thousands of job,” and “government has to work for people and not against them.”
“I think a lot of time people feel the government is putting up obstacles and we need to stop doing that,” Rooney said. “And finally, I love term limits, so when I heard that my ears perked up the most.”
Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) said she was happy the governor started out on a positive point and grew his discussion from there, particularly when he mentioned job growth.
“Creation is what is going to be the success of Illinois,” Tracy said. “It is an old message, but it is still true.”
Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) said the reflective part of the speech that outlined how politicians have worked together should be a blueprint for the future.
“This year is an incredibly important year and we need to demonstrate to the public that we are going to come together in a bipartisan manner and pass a balanced budget,” Barickman said. “Part of today’s speech was to put that flag in the ground and commence that legislative process.”