Governor Bruce Rauner remains committed to a new direction for Illinois, asking
lawmakers again to work with him to achieve fiscal responsibility and a
fundamental change in the way state government works, according to Senator Jim Oberweis.
Rauner issued his call for change during his second “State of the State” address, presented to a joint session of Illinois lawmakers Jan. 27 in the House of Representatives chambers.
[Pictured above, Senator Oberweis (middle) and Representative Mike Fortner of West Chicago (at left) sit with several of their suburban legislative colleagues during the State of the State address.]
“The Rauner Administration has been working to bring a new
direction to our state, but has come up against a wall of politicians who are
quite comfortable with the status quo and don’t want things to change. Governor Rauner
continues to stress the need for economic recovery and comprehensive government
reform, which I support,” Senator Oberweis said. “Let’s be honest, Illinois. How have
the past 12 years of tax-and-spend policies and questionable budgeting
practices worked out for us?”
To overcome years of economic stagnation and loss,
Illinois’ legislative leaders must move beyond outdated policies, partisan
differences and power plays. Senator Oberweis said the state’s fiscal forecast is bleak
if the legislative majorities refuse to come to the table. With no meaningful
reforms, Illinois is projected to have a nearly $5 billion hole in the Fiscal
Year 2016 budget and by June 30, the state could have $9 billion in unpaid
“Preliminary reports indicate Illinois’ finances are a mess
and the fiscal decisions we face over the coming months are going to be tough,”
Senator Oberweis said, “We are fortunate to have a leader in the Governor’s Mansion who
is committed to the kind of fundamental change that will turn things around.
Bruce Rauner is not in this job to win a popularity contest. He will continue
to stand up to entrenched politicians. He will not knuckle under to Speaker
The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget recently
released three-year fiscal projections mandated by state statute, and those
numbers show that under “auto-pilot” budgets over the next three years, the
state’s backlog of bills could reach $25 billion by June 30, 2019.
The 25th District Senator said he supports Governor Rauner’s
call for shared sacrifice.
“Representative Keith Wheeler and I are sharing an office
in North Aurora. In Springfield, Senator Chris Nybo and I are sharing a
legislative aide. I have returned several thousands of dollars to taxpayers
from my state Senate budget. They are small steps, but they show we are willing
to save taxpayer dollars. Every little bit helps,” Senator Oberweis said. “I have also
introduced legislation that will end defined-benefit pensions for state legislators,
with a potential for huge savings. On a personal note, I have waived my right
to a state pension.”
Key to turning Illinois around is promoting the kind of
economic climate that encourages job creation and growth. Other legislative
issues that should be part of the conversation this year are property tax
relief; education funding and reforms that prepare young people for careers;
workers’ compensation and regulation reforms that encourage business growth and
jobs; and reining in state spending.
Senator Oberweis said he stands ready to work with Governor Rauner and
his fellow lawmakers to find solutions for the many problems facing Illinois.
Governor Rauner is expected to release his budget February 17.