Rauner's 'bold agenda' stirs optimism
After listening to Gov. Bruce Rauner's second State of the State address on Wednesday, Heidi Holan, who is on the Republican ticket for House District 46, said she is optimistic about the governor's plans.
“The biggest takeaway is that the governor laid out a very bold agenda that would be making Illinois both more competitive as well as compassionate,” Holan told the DuPage Policy Journal. “I think ‘competitive’ and ‘compassionate’ were the words of the day.”
In his address, Rauner asked both sides of the aisle to “do what’s right” for the state and get the gridlocked budget passed.
“Our job in this capitol is to improve the lives of all the people of Illinois through more economic opportunity, better educational opportunity and more value for their hard-earned tax dollars,” Rauner said.
Though Holan said the governor’s message of competition and compassion resonated, she’s not sure it is enough to get lawmakers to act.
“I think based upon the response in the general assembly, I would say there are some on the floor that are not in favor right now of working with the governor on some of his reforms; and as long as the reforms are attached to the budget, there will probably be no budget,” Holan said.
Rauner called for lawmakers to enact workers’ compensation reform, calling it the “biggest factor” in the state’s loss of jobs. Illinois is battling a 6 percent unemployment rate; nationwide, the rate sits at 5.5 percent.
Holan said that is the very first reform that needs to happen.
“Automatically that would improve the condition of our state dramatically, both with the savings as well as the boost it would give our businesses by not having the high cost of workman’s comp,” Holan said. “That’s low-hanging fruit. That’s a reform we need to make in our state to stay competitive.”
Plans are already underway in terms of pension reform, Rauner said. He said he is working with Senate President John Cullerton to pass a bill that would save $1 billion per year.
Holan said she needs to read the bill in its entirety, but knows that it has garnered support in Springfield.
“It’s not everything we need in a pension reform, but it is a start,” she said.
In his address, Rauner also called for lowering property taxes to help ease the burden on Illinois taxpayers and bring more jobs to the state.
“One of the most critical ways to lower our cost of living and compete for more good jobs is to reduce our property tax burden,” Rauner said. “We have the second-highest property taxes in the country. They are crushing homeowners and small-business owners from one end of the state to the other.”
Lowering property taxes would provide much needed relief to constituents in District 46, Holan said.
“He wants to provide our local governments with a way to reduce their costs so they in turn can lower the property tax. That is the No. 1 issue at the doors. Everyone believes property taxes are too high,” Holan said. “The question is how do we reduce those costs.”
Rauner implored the legislature to enact term limits on elected officials, saying that Illinois needs to “regain the public trust”.
In District 46, Holan said the voters want term limits as well. She said legislature should vote on term limits this year.
“The voters want it, so I think the legislature should take a look at it. It’s in committee now and it’s not being released from committee," Holan said. "Overwhelmingly the voters want it. Overwhelmingly."
Rauner also announced plans for sweeping changes in the public education system that he says would put more money into classrooms and hold schools accountable for their performance.
“I walked away from this speech today feeling very encouraged,” Holan told the DuPage Policy Journal. “I thought the governor had a well laid out plan to make Illinois one of the greatest states to work in. We have all the infrastructure in place. We have everything to make our state great. We simply have to get on a sound financial playing field, and he laid out the way to do that.”
Democrat incumbent state Rep. Deborah Conroy did not respond to requests for comment on this story.