June 17, 2015 | by Steve Lawrence

Illinois Governor Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda:

Invest in education, infrastructure, help for the poor and make government more productive

“You are not getting value for your money” in our state government, the newly elected businessman governor told the attendees of the MSCI Annual Meeting in May. “The government should pay on productivity, not seniority,” he said. “We have to consolidate. We have 7,000 units of government here, more than any other and 2,000 more than the No. 2 state.” Make that 6,994, according to the last available Census Bureau study, with number two being Pennsylvania at 4,871 and Texas a close third with 4,835.

He described state government as dysfunctional and full of conflicts of interest and obsolete procedures and capabilities. “The pension systems are full of double and triple dipping and some of our departments don’t even have computers,” he said. 

The newly elected Governor, a billionaire and self-described “venture capitalist” who is taking no salary, declared: “Help is on the way here in Illinois.” The business community, by all accounts, has been excited at having one of their own in the state capitol.

“I am focused on growing manufacturing in this state,” the governor said. “If manufacturers do not grow and thrive, the state will not. But we have lost about a third of our manufacturing jobs in the last 15 years—good jobs with good benefits.”

He noted education is one important key to restoring those jobs and the state’s faltering economy. “It is the most important thing we can do as a community: hold schools accountable and bring back vocational training.” Rauner said at the moment 150,000 welding and technical jobs in the state go unfilled because it lacks training programs for jobseekers.

“I am focused on growing manufacturing in this state. If manufacturers do not grow and thrive, the state will not.”

The governor believes that the state would attract more jobs if local governments had the right to decide whether or not workers are required to join unions. “I do not support making Illinois a right to work state,” he said, “but I do believe this should be a local decision.” There are 23 states that now grant such local authority, he said, “and we need to get Illinois on that list.”

As part of his Illinois turnaround agenda, he also wants to freeze property taxes, which he said are the highest in the nation next to New Jersey.

“If we can change the regulatory and tax burden in this state, we will thrive,” he told the MSCI audience. “You are the key.” To be sure, facing a Democrat controlled General Assembly, he will need all of the business support he can muster if he is to move his program forward.   


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