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Stay focused on changing

Virtually everyone agrees that Illinois needs to get in better shape. But it’s clear from the reaction to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposals for change that not everyone is willing to commit to the hard work and sacrifice needed to make that happen. Worse, some people are trying to trip up Rauner to protect the status quo.

Illinois may be a mess, but it’s a mess that works in their favor.

For instance, after Rauner’s State of the State speech, some public employee union leaders and special interests who disagree with Rauner tried to paint him as a 1 percenter who cares only about his wealthy friends, not the average people in Illinois. They would rather wage class warfare than try to justify current state policies.

The people of Illinois need to not be distracted and keep the focus where it belongs: on reviving the state’s economy, growing jobs and making this a place people want to live and do business.

It’s clear the policies of the past haven’t worked, and that we are at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states. The Illinois Policy Institute said Illinois was seventh from the bottom of states in GDP growth between 2002 and 2012. Employment declined 2.3 percent in that period, the fifth worst record in the nation. Between 1995 and 2010, Illinois lost $35.3 billion in tax revenue due to a net 855,196 people leaving the state. Twenty-six percent of every tax dollar now goes to state workers’ pension funds, which have more than $100 billion in unfunded liabilities.

People should question the motives of those who are trying to sabotage reform. Rauner pointed to one motive during a stop in Troy last week: “A lot of our government is not run for your benefit. It’s run for the benefit of the people in government.”

Rauner is offering leadership to turn things around. Let’s not squander this opportunity.

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