Rauner touts less red tape, union-fee win
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Gov. Bruce Rauner is highlighting school-funding reform, cutting red tape for businesses, curbs against government unionization and efforts to clip conflicts of interest in his end-of-term message to the General Assembly.
The one-term Republican leaves office Monday when Democrat J.B. Pritzker takes his place. Rauner told reporters Tuesday that his report to lawmakers would emphasize the 2017 legislation to boost money for public schools.
He is taking credit for high employment and reduced fees for small businesses to start. And he noted the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against government unions forcing non-members to pay fair-share fees.
The state Constitution requires outgoing governors to summarize their terms of office. But none has done so since Republican Jim Edgar left office in 1999.
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has concluded the legislative session by thanking lawmakers for persevering through an “epic struggle” over the budget with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The House finished its two-year term Tuesday. The 101st General Assembly is inaugurated Wednesday. Rauner is replaced Monday by Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker.
Democrat Madigan says he won’t rehash the ideological stalemate his arty had with Rauner that stalled a state budget for two years. But he credited Republican as well as Democratic members for bucking Rauner in July 2017 to adopt a tax hike and approve a budget.
He says lawmakers deserve credit for the work they do daily but that “from time to time the issue become more significant.” He says that’s what happened in the battle with Rauner and legislators rose above politics to do the right thing.
The incoming Illinois governor would be able to offer his cabinet members 15 percent more in salary under a plan that the House has approved.
The House voted 68-37 Tuesday to increase annual pay for the director of prisons, the transportation secretary and the directors of other agencies governing human services, health care, the environment and more.
Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker says Illinois salaries for agency directors and assistant directors aren’t competitive. The legislation would increase the highest salaries to $172,500 from $150,000.
Critics complained that nonunion middle managers have dealt with salary freezes for 15 or more years. They say the state can’t afford higher pay when there’s a $130 billion hole in what the state owes to its pension systems.
The bill is SB3531 .
The Illinois House has approved a measure that would allow the incoming governor to replace the members of the Illinois Tollway board.
The House voted 100-6 Tuesday to allow Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker to abolish the terms of the board that oversees 294 miles (473 kilometers) of tolled interstate highway in northeastern Illinois. News reports have detailed questionable spending and contracting in the past 18 months by the board.
Critics complained that replacing the board would delay the Tollway’s construction work scheduled for this spring. Wheaton Republican Rep. Jeanne Ives called the legislatin a political ploy because a majority of board members’ terms will expire by May.
The legislation is sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Christian Mitchell. Mitchell will be deputy governor under Pritzker after Pritzker is inaugurated Monday.
The bill is SB1298 .
Illinois lawmakers convene Tuesday for the final full day of the 100th General Assembly.
The House will likely take up legislation requested by Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker. The Democrat won’t be inaugurated until Monday but he is seeking a change in state law to boost salaries of cabinet officials by 15 percent . He says he is having trouble recruiting talented professionals.
The salaries would affect the transportation secretary, the prison-system director, the chief of the state police and others. It would affect 49 positions. Current salaries range from $104,000 for the head of the Illinois Power Agency to $150,000 for the Transportation and Corrections departments.
Another House measure would allow Pritzker to abolish the terms of Illinois Tollway board members and appoint replacements because of questionable spending by the current board.