Photo courtesy of Gov. Bruce Rauner's Facebook page
Gov. Bruce Rauner, far right, greets visitors at an open house at the Old State Capitol.
SPRINGFIELD — It didn’t take newly sworn-in governor Bruce Rauner but a few minutes Monday to vow an end to business as usual in Illinois and push his business and education platforms.
The Winnetka Republican made nods to reconciliation and bipartisanship but painted a bleak picture of Illinois’ present.
Rauner, whose election marked the end of a decade of one-party control of the statehouse, described a state being abandoned by businesses because of high taxes and over-regulation.
“Today, Illinois is not able to compete with neighboring states,” Rauner said.
“Last year, we lost more people than any other state in America. And over the last 10 years, we were right near the bottom of all 50 states for out-migration.”
People are leaving to find jobs and companies are leaving and taking jobs with them, the governor said, and people and companies are finding more appealing opportunities in all directions.
One reason, he said, was a lack of confidence in the state’s financial condition.
And that poor condition he blamed on “bad decisions, bad practices and bad management by state government.”
The budget crisis, he said, “is not a partisan creation; it is a truly bipartisan one.”
Rauner said the heart of his answer lies in creating “a booming economy that is pro-growth, pro- business and pro-job creation, or we won’t be able to solve any of our other problems.”
While some may be tempted to look for an easier road and leave the problems for another day, “we cannot do that. To continue business as we’ve been doing it would be morally corrupt.”
With Illinois facing billions in both long- and short-term debt, the governor briefly touched on how difficult and unpopular the road ahead might seem.
Illinois, he said, must fix years of busted budgets and broken government, nurture job growth and offer world-class educational opportunities “from cradle to career.”
“To achieve that will require sacrifice — sacrifice by all of us: politicians and interest groups, business and labor, those who pay for government and those who depend on government services and who need us and who we need to support, “ Rauner said.
“Each person here today and all those throughout the state will be called on to share in the sacrifice so that one day we can again share in Illinois’ prosperity.”
The governor said his administration’s decisions will be “based on the next generation, not on the next election.”
If the new governor didn’t strike a conciliatory tone in his inaugural address, Democratic legislators and leaders seemed to take it in stride.
“I’m sure the governor believes everything he said, but he hasn’t been really following some of the progress we’ve made in the state in the last six years that I’ve been Senate president,” said state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago.
If there was any bait in the governor’s “morally corrupt” comment, the state Senate president wasn’t taking it.
“We’re looking forward to working with him,” Cullerton said.
“The election is over, though, and he’s going to have learn about state government. He hasn’t had an opportunity to serve in state government, so he’s going to have to learn the budget.
“There are only about 38 more days (until) he’s got to give the budget for the next fiscal year and we’re eagerly looking forward to how he wants to balance it and what his priorities are.”
Said state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, “We have to move the state forward and I know that and he knows that and the rubber will meet the road not in the rhetoric of a speech but in the actual work.”
Among the early moves Rauner announced Monday were an immediate order to state agencies under his command to freeze non-essential spending and a review of all contracts signed since November.
Mark Fitton is a reporter for the Illinois News Network.