Rauner emphasizes economic reform in third annual budget address

Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke at his third annual budget address. (Image Courtesy of Blue Room Stream)

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

In his speech to the General Assembly, Wednesday Rauner again called upon lawmakers to balance the calls for tax increases with reforms that would signal to businesses that Illinois is a place they can thrive.

Rauner said that, had the state’s economy been performing at the national average, we would be in a much better situation than we currently are. “If we had the right policies – if we’d made changes to fix our broken system – if we had just grown our economy at the national average, since 2000, we’d have 650,000 more jobs than we have today,” he said.

Rauner praised leaders in the General Assembly for accepting that the state must adopt pro-growth policies that will create jobs. “We finally all agree that economic reforms must be part of a balanced budget solution. That is great news,” he said, referring to House Democrats’ longstanding unwillingness to consider economic reforms they deemed as “non-budget issues” in budget negotiations.

He said that he was open to compromises that would lead to a budget agreement with tax hikes, but only if they were coupled with reforms.

Rauner told lawmakers that term limits would be “one of the most important things we can do to send a positive recruiting message to job creators: “it’s a new day in Illinois, we’ve turned the corner.”

Conservative Republicans have been after Rauner to interject himself into the budget negotiation discussions, upholding his campaign pledge to fight any tax increase without meaningful reforms that will grow the state’s lagging economy.

In a response from House Democrats, state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, accused Rauner of wanting to “increase the profits of big corporations” and detailed their caucus’ plan, which included lowering the state’s corporate tax, expanding tax credits for businesses, a higher minimum wage, and an additional income tax on millionaires.

The millionaire’s tax did not receive enough votes when it was pushed last year and would not take effect until 2019 at the earliest.

Harris also claimed that budgets passed by House Democrats in recent years — which were several billion dollars out of balance — were rejected by Rauner “because these budgets don’t increase corporate profits enough.”

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