Latest: Unions rip Rauner’s State of the State speech

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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – The Latest on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address on Wednesday (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

Illinois labor leaders are reacting strongly to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s continued calls for changes that would weaken unions.

In a statement Wednesday, a coalition of unions said Rauner “has been an unmitigated disaster for the working people and most vulnerable citizens of Illinois.”

The Republican governor pushed in his State of the State speech Wednesday for many of the same pro-business ideas he’s been stressing for the past year.

He also said Illinois’ largest public-worker union is pushing in contract negotiations for compensation he described as “out-of-touch with reality.”

Democrats and their union allies have said Rauner’s agenda would drive down wages and hurt the middle class. Because of the disagreement, lawmakers have been unable to agree on a budget for the fiscal year that started July 1.


12:40 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he wants to focus on improving Illinois schools and offering “quality school choice options” for low-income students.

Rauner said during his State of the State speech Wednesday he wants to direct more money to elementary and high school classrooms and early childhood education. He also says he wants to hold schools “truly accountable for results.”

The Republican has been a big supporter of charter schools, which typically are not unionized and which some Democrats oppose. Rauner and his wife also have donated significant money to elp Chicago Public Schools.

But reforming Illinois schools wasn’t a big emphasis of Rauner’s first year in office.

Democratic Senate President John Cullerton has said overhauling the way Illinois funds schools to make it more equitable is a top 2016 priority.


12:35 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants reforms to the Illinois’ criminal justice system to reduce the prison population.

Rauner told lawmakers he wants to lower the prison population by 25 percent by 2025 by implementing suggestions from a commission he convened last year to study the issue.

Rauner made comments during his second State of the State address Wednesday.

He says the state should pursue programs that reduce recidivism and help inmates acclimate back into society and emphasize rehabilitation over imprisonment for some low-level offenders.

Rauner says the commissions reforms “will lead to fewer victims of crimes, a pathway back for ex-offenders, and safer communities for all.”

Illinois’ prison population has grown from 6,000 in 1974 to about 49,000 presently. The state spends $1.3 billion annually on prisons.


12:30 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says lawmakers should try to fix the state’s underfunded pension system by giving Illinois workers a choice on reduced benefits.

The Republican governor told lawmakers Wednesday during his State of the State address about a plan he’s working on with Democratic Senate President John Cullerton. It would give employees a choice between keeping cost-of-living increases in retirement and counting future raises when figuring retirement benefits.

But there’s disagreement about whether the plan should include a provision that takes salary increases out of the collective bargaining process. Rauner wants that, but Cullerton does not. Both say they’re willing to continue working to agree on a measure.

Illinois has the worst-funded penson system of any U.S. state and is roughly $111 billion in debt.


12:25 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says his administration is working to transform the way Illinois provides health and human services.

Rauner said during his State of the State speech Wednesday that Illinois spends billions each year on “a broken patchwork of reactive, expensive and ineffective interventions.”

Without providing details, he says his administration is focusing more on prevention and paying providers for “value” rather than volume.

The Republican also says he wants to move more elderly people and people with developmental disabilities who live in institutions into “community care” programs, where they live on their own with assistance.

Democrats are big supporters of community care.

Rauner’s office last year proposed limiting eligibility for some programs to save money during the state budget impasse. He later reversed course.


12:20 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is repeating his call for changes he says will make Illinois more competitive.

The Republican is delivering his second State of the State speech Wednesday. He says Illinois should be leading the country in economic growth but “we are losing the race for good paying jobs.”

Rauner says the key is to pass pro-business legislation that he’s been pushing for more than a year. They include changes to workers’ compensation and freezing property taxes.

The agenda items are the center of a stalemate over the state budget that’s approaching its eighth month.

Democrats want Rauner to agree to a tax increase to balance the budget. Rauner won’t agree until Democrats pass some of his priorities.

He says he’ll work with Democrats to accomplish some of them this year.