State of the State: Rauner optimistic about Illinois' future, despite budget crisis

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Governor Bruce Rauner said Wednesday he's deeply optimistic about the future of the state, despite the current budget crisis, in his State of the State address in Springfield.

READ: Gov. Bruce Rauner's 2017 full State of the State address

The governor was applauded as he entered the House chamber and began his speech recounting successes in streamlining state government, ethics and criminal justice reform.

"I am deeply optimistic about the future of our beloved Illinois," Rauner said.

But the budget stalemate and Illinois' worst-in-the-nation credit rating and population loss reared near the end of the speech as Rauner renewed his insistence on structural reforms - including term limits and a property tax freeze - to any spending plan he could approve.

"Our state's economy could take off like a rocket ship if we could just come together on major pro job changes that need legislation to take effect," Rauner said.

"It was an incredibly tone-deaf speech where he showed no remorse, no responsibility for his role in what's happening," said State Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago.

"Lowering wages and benefits for working families to put more money in the pockets of big business, that's not the solution. We gotta get past that," said State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago.

Meanwhile, Senate leaders continued negotiations on the framework for a budget deal that would include an increase in the state income tax.

"We need to cut spending. Raising taxes is the wrong answer," said State Rep. David Sweeney, R-Barrington.

"We have to grow the economy faster than we grow government spending and right now, this package wouldn't do that," said Kristina Rasmussen, Illinois Policy Institute.

The governor - whose on record supporting a tax increase if he gets reforms - encouraged the Senate negotiators.

"Please keep working, please keep trying. The people of Illinois need you to succeed," Rauner said.

As budget talks continue in the Senate, Rauner is scheduled to deliver his budget address on Feb. 15.


Rauner called violence in Chicago "intolerable" during his State of the State address and said Illinois needs to end violent crime in the nation's third-largest city.

Rauner's statement came after President Donald Trump tweeted late Tuesday that he would "send in the Feds!" if Chicago's high homicide numbers don't improve.

Rauner called for a "joint commitment" among city, county, state and federal governments to "find a solution to curb the violence."

The Republican says Illinois State Police officers are helping the Chicago Police Department and have stepped up efforts to stop crime that has spread to the city's expressways.

Rauner says the state must strive for a cure to violence by providing good jobs, eliminating slums with incentives for development and school choice.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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