Governor Rauner’s fourth State of the State speech today was mostly a pep rally about Illinois’ potential and a list of what he sees as his accomplishments. If you’re looking for something concrete and new, there was only this:
Today, I will sign an executive order to strengthen the policies that ensure all government employees under my office’s jurisdiction have reliable and responsive outlets for reporting acts of sexual misconduct. The order makes the Ethics Act supreme over all other laws and agreements in the state, even those in collective bargaining agreements.
Offhand, that seems like a good idea. It apparently goes beyond just sexual harassment claims, but we’ll have to wait to see. Rauner also will propose accompanying legislation, so it will be interesting to see how Democrats respond. Their public union base presumably won’t like having collectively bargained protections overridden.
Two other things caught my attention.
First, he got bipartisan applause when he said he will be introducing a balanced budget. Good luck with that. Democrats know that will be extraordinarily difficult to do. I doubt it will be truly balanced. Rauner’s three previous budget submissions were not balanced, though he claimed they were. Dems will be all over him on that, and they’ve already started. After the speech, Comptroller Mendoza tweeted, “Now he has 14 days to deliver a balanced budget that doesn’t involve pixie dust and magic beans.” (As if the last budget passed by her party didn’t.)
Second, instead of emphasizing that needed reforms have been stymied by the General Assembly, Rauner spoke about how much progress we’ve made. That’s a prett serious change of tone that may portend a change in direction. No mention of his reform agenda, except for the usual talk about term limits and property taxes. “We have planted the seeds of growth,” he said. Good luck with that, too, if that’s going to be a campaign theme.
Do cut Rauner some slack, however. The undeniable reality remains that Democrats in the General Assembly have blocked all needed reforms. Plus, all governors are in the difficult position of having to be a cheerleader and economic development officer. I’d prefer frank talk that educates Illinoisans about the true depth of our problems, but I understand the pressure to take a different approach in this particular speech.
I’ve been tough on Rauner on this site, but keep perspective. His sins are trivial compared to those of Cook County Democrats who bear the lion’s share of responsibility for destroying the state and remain intent on looting it further.
Full text of the speech is linked here.
–Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.