DECATUR– Governor Bruce Rauner is continuing to spread his ‘turnaround agenda’ across the state; making a Monday stop in Decatur to speak at an event hosted by the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce.
Similar to his other stops around the state this month, Rauner spoke about decreasing union powers by creating individual ‘right to work zones’, taking power away from special interest groups in Springfield, reforming the state’s tax code, and cutting back on workers compensation costs for businesses, all in an effort to make the state more business friendly.
“Special interest groups are powerful on both sides of the aisle and they are spending a lot of your money to protect themselves and their interests,” the Governor said. “We have to take the power away from these groups and get it back into the hands of local voters, that’s what this is all about.”
Rauner also said he wanted to cut back on the amount of works comp costs that he says damage small businesses, “These trial lawyers that push for workers comp at every turn, they are making hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on the backs of small businesses. Illinois doesn’t have to have the lowest workers comp costs in the nation; I just want us to be competitive. In this instance average is okay, we should strive to be average.”
“I’ve spoken with the leadership at Caterpillar and they tell me that the amount that workers comp costs them in Illinois is five times the amount that it costs them in other states, that’s not an attractive incentive for businesses to come here,” Rauner added.
The governor also touched on his ideas for reforming state pensions to begin to decrease the current backlog. Rauner said he would like retirees and workers that have vested into their pension plan for several years to remain with the plan they were promised, but would like to see reforms enacted for future employees.
“I don’t want to take anything away from anybody that has earned it, that’s not fair,” Rauner said, “but we can’t keep doing what we have been doing because it’s not sustainable and we can’t afford it.” Rauner said he, like the rest of the state employee workforce, is waiting to see how the pension ruling that was passed in 2013, plays out in court before making any adjustments.
Despite the Attorney General’s statement on ‘right to work zones’ violating the state’s labor laws, Rauner said he remained hopeful that the General Assembly would buy in, “This has never been about being anti-union for me, I’m not anti-union, but I am for voter control.”
“I’ve said this since day one, I want local voters and local municipalities to have control over this. They know what is best for their city or town,” Rauner added. “If Macon County wants to make all their employees join a union, that’s fine, if the schools want to have a union, that’s fine, but I don’t see why what Macon County does should have an effect on what Piatt County or Sangamon County does.”
Eight weeks into his term as governor Rauner said he has faced more backlash, both in the media, and in Springfield from his fellow General Assembly members, but remains confident in his agenda, “I wouldn’t say I have all the support that I need but we are getting there.”