Rauner outlines plans for first-year agenda

Bruce RaunerSPRINGFIELD (AP) — Gov. Bruce Rauner has laid out a first-year agenda he says will make Illinois more competitive and “empower” people and local governments.

The Winnetka Republican delivered his first State of the State address Wednesday.

He says Illinois must make changes to become more welcoming to businesses.

Rauner also wants to strip some powers from labor unions. Among them is letting local government employees decide if they want to join a union.

Rauner is also calling for a two-year freeze of property taxes and says he’s open to raising the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 over seven years.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature will oppose many of Rauner’s proposals.

Rauner says his plan is aggressive, but necessary. He says: “It’s now or never for Illinois. It’s time to act.”

Rauner proposed a list of reforms to improve the state’s business climate in Wednesday’s State of the State address.

They include workers’ compensation and medical malpractice reform, and making unemployment insurance fair.

Rauner also said he wants to hire more prison guards, reform the parole system and invest in a state program that keeps non-violent offenders out of prison.

He also says he wants to continue to invest in a program known as Adult Redeploy. It helps fund programs that divert non-violent offenders to community-based programs, rather than sending them to prison.

The Winnetka Republican hasn’t said how his administration would pay for the additional employees, or how much the new hires would add to the state payroll.