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HomeIllinois NewsRauner: Dear State Employees, the Truth is Illinois is broke

Rauner: Dear State Employees, the Truth is Illinois is broke



Bruce Rauner2_8

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Bruce Rauner penned the following public letter to the state's employees, explaining his reasoning for vetoing HB 580 Monday:


For too many years, Illinoisans have been misled. Each of you in state government has been misled. Taxpayers who fund government have been misled. Recipients of public services, including our most vulnerable residents, have also been misled. The consequences are before us, and they are dire.

I ran for office to right these wrongs. I believe that solving our state’s crisis requires a simple first step – for someone to tell the truth. So here it is.

The truth is that Illinois is broke. Our taxpayers, who pay the highest property taxes in the nation, are maxed out and local governments continue to raise property taxes.

Expanding the size of government faster than middle-class paychecks are growing is a failing strategy. That is why I have no choice but to veto AFSCME’s arbitration bill, HB580.

It’s not because I don’t want to see you earn a better living today. I do. I veto HB580 because I want to protect the pension system that you are counting on for your retirement.

If I signed this bill, I would be subjecting all taxpayers to another $3 billion in higher taxes. That makes no sense when too many jobs have been leaving Illinois, and those hardworking Illinoisans that remain see their incomes falling.

We can make Illinois a state where our employees receive the pension benefits they were promised, where our budget is truly balanced through strong economic growth rather than destructive tax hikes, and where our state workers are not forced to work in decaying buildings with technology that is older than my children and furniture that is older than me.

I pledged on my first day in office to build a partnership with state employees, and that is exactly what we have done. Our 1970s computers are being replaced with next generation technology. With the General Assembly’s help, I pledged to put the Thompson Center up for sale and move employees to more modern space. We pushed for more flexible scheduling and ended Rod Blagojevich’s corrupt hiring system.

When Attorney General Madigan sought to shut off pay, Comptroller Munger and I defeated that misguided attack on state employees. And I have called on the General Assembly to honor Governor Quinn’s failed promise of wage increases from 2011. We must respect our commitments and not make new commitments that we cannot afford.

We also sought employees’ ideas for improvements and savings, prompting us to send out the first-ever state employee survey. The results were eye-opening.

You told me that promotions and compensation are not based on merit. You told me that agencies don’t reward creativity and innovation. I want to reward hard work and ingenuity. Unfortunately, union leadership is blocking many of these common sense ideas – ideas that you want. Rest assured, I heard your desire for these reforms loud and clear.

So my administration took action. We launched a truly meaningful merit pay program. We started a gainsharing program that will reward state employees for helping save taxpayers’ money. We implemented a “rapid results” system that removes obstacles to employee innovation and allows employees to personally change processes that impede good customer service.

But as I have noted, with a truly historic budget deficit and skyrocketing debt, our taxpayers cannot afford the added spending pressure of huge wage and health insurance increases. That is why I must veto HB580, ensuring that the legal process agreed to with AFSCME leaders and currently underway before the Labor Board, is allowed to proceed and fairly resolve any outstanding issues.

But I make this pledge: The State will honor its promises to you. We will continue to listen and build a workplace that values and rewards hard work, innovation, and creativity, all in a welcoming work environment. We will keep fighting to get you paid in full and on time. And we will continue to stand for fiscal discipline so that you and your families can again know you are, finally, being told the truth.

Illinois Review
Illinois Review
Founded in 2005, Illinois Review is the leading perspective and source of conservative news, opinion and information in Illinois. Follow Illinois Review on X at @IllinoisReview.


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  1. Finally a true leader in our state that is willing to stop kicking the can down the road. Now the question is can Mike Madigan and John Cullerton start thinking about healing the deep wounds of debt that burden our states fiscal health and more importantly think about relieving the future burden we continue to put on our future workers, tax payers and job creators.
    November 2008 was the lowest point in our countries recession, since that dark time in our nations economy we are the only state that has less jobs(over 100,000) than that time over 7 years ago. Illinois prior to 2007 was always considered THE BEST Midwest state nationally to build or start your business by any national business poles. Today Illinois is rated THE WORST Midwest state to do business and one of the worst in America.
    The only way we can change the momentum of this rapid decline is if our leaders in Springfield can gain the courage that our governor has. Workers Compensation, Lawsuit, Pension and Tax Reform are the most important issues that if tackled will keep jobs and create jobs in the state that I love. Illinois is full of opportunities and can be THE BEST again but these opportunities only come with courageous selfless leadership in Springfield like our governor is displaying.
    Gary Rabine, (Job Creator wanting to create them here)

  2. Maybe if State politicians just started following the law in pension payments, things would get better. I know I can’t get away with spending money I do not have on stupid things… like the new lights on the toll road between Belvidere and Elgin making farmland look like daylight at night. Who got paid off on that scam?!?!!

  3. Rauner and I have different views of what reducing the size of government means. Once he gained office he almost doubled the salaries of his cabinet and didn’t cut any unnecessary positions. Like his aide for his wife! But then he expects the front line state worker to pay more for healthcare and a freeze in pay. I would gladly take a wage freeze if he would freeze the amount we pay for health benefits and allowed for step increases for low seniority employees. We seen “merit pay” work in the 90’s when those who paid into their political coffers were the recipients as well as being promoted! The State budget and pension is burdened by political appointees who qualify for a pension with little time served and contributed, not the front line state worker.

  4. Wondering,
    I’m wondering if you have any brains in your head. Simply stated, politicians have played favorites and have gotten very, very rich at the expense of Illinois taxpayers. They all blame the other side. Governor Rauner spent a lot of his own money to change the way Illinois does business. What’s more, he is volunteering his time as Governor and is declining his pay. It’s the old lifelong politicians that are the problem.

  5. Thank God we finally have a Governor with the balls to say no to ridiculous spending that this pit of a state can not afford. Thank you Governor Rauner for having the courage and backbone to stand up to our corrupt Chicago politicians that have put us in this situation!!

  6. We hired Rauner to clean up this state and that is what he is trying to do. There will be things that have to be done to get this state straightened out. Some things we may not like but he is a good leader and a good business man and we have to trust someone. We have to begin somewhere. Chicago politics and other things have busted Illinois. This mess, not made by Rauner, has to be straightened out.

  7. I was Asst to State Comptroller in 1977. Governor THOMPSON wanted to put pension money into general budget and borrow against it. We said unconstitutional No one would listen. Payments by General Assembly did not find the pension account. Spent all the funds collected for other expenditures. In effect stole the state employee money in payments to the fund. Thank you fellow Republicans. Great idea. We are now broke and blaming the workers of Illinois.

  8. TAX THE PENSIONS. Why should state retirees escape paying their fair share? It is uncoscionable that hardworking people have to pay state income tax and retirees receiving state pensions pay zero stat income tax. TAX THE PENSIONS.

  9. Are you still building that new 4 lane from Macomb to Peoria and for what reason ? Simply hook it up to Rte 67 and head traffic to Peoria that direction thru Monmouth and Galesburg . I do not think New Phili , Marietta ,Seville , Cuba or Canton need it

  10. So are you a friend, employee, or relative of our govenor? The Chicago Tribune recently gave him an F grade for the job he has done so far as govenor. Tell us all the truth. How are you involved with him?

  11. Guess what, Elaine?
    I paid taxes for 35 years so I can retire now. The state’s lack of taxing pensions is now the ONLY reason I stay in Illinois. Florida and Arizona are calling me, but I’ll stay here because I don’t have to pay state income taxes on my meager pension. I do pay federal taxes though, and sales taxes and property taxes and fees and every other tax there is.

  12. Honesty is obviously a good start, but what is really needed is a state constitutional amendment which repeals the guaranteed pensions of state employees (adopted in the 1970 state constitutional convention). Nobody in the real world gets a guaranteed pension anymore, because it is fundamentally unsustainable. No organization in the world can afford to pay every employee it has ever had as though they still work for that organization, with guaranteed increases every year. It is just not possible. It was a Ponzi scheme when it was adopted, and it is still a Ponzi scheme.

  13. What is your point? That Gary is off the mark, in respect to his assessment of Rauner’s predicament, and of the state’s? I do wonder why the Shitcago Tribune (sorry for all the good folk living in this politically turbid environment) gave our governor an F?

  14. Exactly! There should be a term limit on al government elected officials. Mike Madigon needs to go. He knows he’s running or should I say ruining this state. He has money in his pocket and benefits for life.

  15. WE didn’t hire Rauner. He was elected. And I, for one, CERTAINLY didn’t vote for him. My job is in jeopardy because the state can’t fund higher education. And now students are going to nearby states who are scooping them up like crazy. Why? Because students are afraid the universities will close and their degrees won’t be worth the paper they’re printed on. Rauner is holding higher education hostage to get his agendas enacted. He’s pulling a Scott Walker on the state of Illinois. And Wisconsin has been suffering since Walker’s election-going downhill fast.
    And I wonder about the future of my daughter’s grade school. There has been little spending done on the most important asset in the state-the education of children. The future of the state as well as America is being left behind. Figure it out but don’t kill the state in the process!!

  16. You are so right on that. We can all thank Daley (the second clown) for going crazy with our pension money. Pensions were solvent until he started dipping in to fund his pet projects and dole out money to his buddies. Then the legislature gave CPS a pension holiday so they didn’t have to contribute. Talk about mismanagement……Illinois reigns supreme in fiscal irresponsibility, especially when it really counts.

  17. If an investment company were handling my pension, I should hope that they were making money from it. Also, I wasn’t under the impression that Illinois’ pension problems were a consequence of bad portfolios. I thought some public office holders were responsible. Was I misled? Sounds like the Governor is trying to break the bad news to the state employees which the rest of the citizens have known for a decade or more.

  18. I know for certain that there are employees in the archive building that do NOTHING all day long except wait fir a phone to ring. REALLY I’m sure there’s other crap like this that could be reviewed. If someone needs in the building make a date and time and let someone go gather the documents and then the caller come get them but don’t pay an hourly wage to have these people SIT there bored to tears and brag to their friends about it

  19. Why do you blame Rauner. What about Madigan and all the career politicians. They will not even try to work with Rauner. I don’t see them offering to work for nothing to help fix our economy

  20. Gee, I was so sure that you ran for this office because you were a business man and knew exactly what to do to fix Illinois’ money problems and you couldn’t even get one budget passed. You should be ashamed after all your arrogance and unwillingness to listen to anyone who has been through it a hundred times. We, the voters knew you didn’t have a clue. It takes negotiation and respect for the other people who know better than you what is going on in the State of Illinois. You can try to put it on the other party members, but you had to fire all the employees and staff that were already in jobs and pay your new staff higher wages than the ones already trained and working. You should know as well as anyone that continuity in such a specialized world that is ruled more by laws and rules and regulations already in place, not to be ruled by some owner in the business world who can change the rules and regulations on a whim or to try to prove a point to the opposition party. It certainly can’t be compared to two businesses who are competing against each other to make a profit. Most things are already in play by the time you get in office and and your new employees try to learn how to do budgeting for a government entity. I hope you have figured it out so now that the State is ready for the next year’s budget while most schools, colleges, social services, students etc. etc. etc. have scraped and scavenged to get through your learning curve to your second budget while also doing their planning for their new fiscal year plus still take care of their last fiscal year without the ability to pay bills. Because why? You can’t pay bills without a budget and appropriations and division of collected taxes to pay salaries, benefits, supplies to run an office or class, or anything you need to be able to carry on the business of the Stste of Illinois.
    Wake up and smell the coffee or at least be ready to pay for it if you need it.

  21. I have family that works for the state and the man has personal came to my work in southern illinois nothing happens here we are the forgot Illinois the man is working on what needs to be fixed and ur are going to take the word. Of the Chicago Tribune you must not know they only support democrats and the Metropolitan area it doesn’t matter there are few jobs here or the lack of well pay work to be had Chicago that’s all that matters in Illinois nor do the schools falling apart here needs fixed but yet we pay some of the high taxes in the country a cross the board no no no we don’t need to be friends employee or a relative to see are eyes are open not shut