JOLIET – Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State address on Wednesday.
The Herald-News spoke to area legislators to gauge their reactions to the speech.
State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, said he was “cheered” by Rauner’s encouragement of the bipartisan deal being negotiated by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and state Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, the Republican Senate leader.
Described as a “grand bargain” that has been in the works since the veto session, McGuire said the deal includes 13 bills aimed at reaching a balanced budget. It’s a blend of Republican and Democrat initiatives.
“But for the compromise to pass, the governor needs to put actions behind his words as leader of the Republican Party,” McGuire said, adding that Rauner could “use his influence” on Republican state legislators.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said he agreed with the optimistic tone of Rauner’s speech.
“The crazy part is – when being entrenched in everything – you see all our problems are fixable,” Batinick said. “There are fundamental things you can’t change and take away from Illinoisans.”
For too long, he said, legislators have not been fostering growth in the state.
“People don’t want to move to northwest Indiana. They don’t want to move to other Midwest states,” Batinick said.
State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, said he was disappointed Rauner took “13 to 15 minutes” to get to the actual problem.
“Which is the lack of a budget the last 19 months,” Walsh said.
“He highlighted a bunch of different things we accomplished together when we work on issues rather than politics and ideology. If we can sit down and get away from ideologies, then I think we can come up with some kind of budget solution.”
Walsh said when Rauner talked in the speech about term limits and redistricting, “those two items aren’t going to solve the budget issue.”
“It’s dollars and cents,” he said. “Those two items, even if we pass amendments to put it on the ballot, they wouldn’t be on the ballot until 2018 and they wouldn’t be in effect until 2022. That does not solve the issue of providing services we are required to provide to residents.”
State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said in a statement that Rauner set an important tone during the address.
“Growing our economy and righting our sinking fiscal ship can happen,” she said. “But it starts with ending the partisan divide and engaging in honest discussions from everyone to solve problems.”