O’Fallon played host Monday, March 30, for the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois’ private business summit with Governor Bruce Rauner as the star featured speaker, along with other department heads and region business leaders to focus on economic issues.
“I’m meeting with business leaders and elected officials... we are focused on getting Illinois turned around (and) getting our economy growing by creating great careers for everyone who wants to work here,” Rauner explained. “We’ve got to make Illinois more competitive, and grow our way out of our challenges.”
O’Fallon’s Regency Conference Center, located at 400 Regency Park Dr., was a full house with local government and business leaders.
Rauner said he was taken through an extensive tour of the manufacturing facility at Boeing St. Clair, Mid America Airport and Scott Air Force Base while visiting the area and discussing economic opportunities for future growth.
Specifically discussing Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda as it pertains to Southwestern Illinois was one of the highlighted discussion features during the 15-minute press conference.
“We can’t tax our way out of our challenges—we’ve got to become a growth state. Pro-investment, pro-healthy economy, pro-rising incomes with strong careers for everyone,” Rauner said.
Rauner said this can be done by starting with changing the regulatory climate, the worker’s compensation, the unemployment insurance structure, lawsuit abuses, and labor regulations in Illinois due to uncompetitive and current costliness.
“We do not need to be a right to work state. I do not support Illinois being a right to work state,” Rauner said. “Let’s let our local voters decide if they like the employment flexibility in the county or not.”
Rauner said he encouraged local control on issues in Illinois schools and collective bargaining.
“It’s very hard to have a balance of power and we need to have a restoration of balance of power between taxpayers and voters and the insiders in our government,” Rauner said. “Our Turnaround Agenda is based on voter empowerment, local control to help our government turnaround and tax burden inside the state.”
When asked about whether or not proposed cuts in the state budget would impose a heavier burden on local governments, Rauner didn’t respond directly, but rather said he supported a Turnaround Agenda that will require increased local handling of state funds.
Village of Shiloh Administrator John Marquart said he looks forward to hearing Rauner’s plans for the plan for how state budget cuts proposed by the new administration in Springfield will affect local municipality control of funds.
“Thankfully the Illinois Municipal League (IML) has been keeping us local guys in the loop, but I’m interested to see how it all pans out in the long run,” Marquart said.
The IML is a statewide community-focused lobbying and educational organization comprised of municipality presidents and mayors to keep local governments informed, and “whose special interest is the people,” according to the IML mission statement.
The business summit was closed to the public.