Gov. Brue Rauner’s agenda may be shocking to some but he rightfully sees Illinois in crisis. We should question the motives of anyone who cautions him to go slowly or experiment with small changes. After more than a decade of families leaving our state because of high taxes and a lack of jobs and opportunity, it’s time to act decisively, boldly, and with innovation. The governor is right. This crisis calls for expedient action, which I support.
For too long Illinois has been rated at the bottom of the 50 states for job creation but at the top of the list for out-migration and corruption.
The governor is taking on a corrupt government culture, created and supported by members of both parties. As a result, the governor has courageously taken quick action and moved forward on his agenda to provide empowerment and more freedom. His executive order on “fair share” provides freedom for workers in government unions to decide for themselves to be part of the union. No longer will their fair share dues be used to elect and lobby politicians who make government more about themselves than the people.
Such unseemly influence has created a public pension system beyond what taxpayers can afford; it raised the cost of government services by creating an unfair system that rejects qualified businesses in favor of expensive union contractors who come with costly mandates of prevailing wage and project labor agreements. The result is high-priced state contracts that provide poor value to taxpayers. Instead of four new schools we get three; instead of 10 miles of new road we get seven. Meanwhile, our schools must resort to bake sales, band concerts and tax referendums to pay for the overpriced and also over-mandated schools.
The current taxpayer-funded public pension burden is 20 percent of the state budget. Workers need to be given the chance to opt out and into a 401(k) type pension plan to lower costs. New workers should only be given this option. A change in the state constitution will be needed but I believe most taxpaying voters will support that change and approve this reform.
Rauner’s right-to-work zones would give freedom to workers in those zones to decide if they want to join a union instead of being forced to join. Our families will benefit from new job opportunities created by companies looking again at Illinois as friendly place to do business. Don’t fall for the fear tactics by the public-sector unions claiming it will “kill the middle class” or make people poor or eliminate benefits. The only ones who will lose from right-to-work in Illinois are union leaders who receive six-figure salaries.
Property tax relief can happen with taxpayers empowered to hold local governments accountable, including government consolidation if it makes sense.
Reforming workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance rates would lower costs for businesses and government alike. Illinois’ high rates limit willing and capable investors from starting new businesses and hiring employees. The unanswered question today is whether politicians are courageous enough to stand up to the cottage industry of questionable lawsuits created by certain trial lawyers and doctors who have profiteered from Illinois’ bad laws, which sap billions of dollars from businesses and deprives countless families of jobs, the meaningful and respectful alternative to welfare.
The governor is developing a budget that shifts funds from wasteful spending and less important programs to priorities like education and care for the most vulnerable in our society. Public safety is also a priority. Hiring more Correctional system guards could save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in overtime costs. At the same time we need a program that reduces the prison population with programs that rehabilitate and reduce recidivism.
Freedom empowers all people regardless of race, gender, political party or economic status. It has immeasurable and exponential power to build and grow our businesses and communities, to provide jobs and reestablish Illinois as a destination place to live and raise a family.
Governor Rauner’s innovative agenda is decisive and bold. The policies and practices of the past 12 years have not worked. Let’s embrace our potential. Let the legislators of both parties know you expect them to embrace it as well.