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Governor Rauner Delivers State of the State Address

Before a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate this afternoon, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his first State of the State Address. The University of Illinois leadership was on hand and sitting in the Speaker’s gallery. Governor Rauner outlined an ambitious, broad first-year agenda that began with his belief that, “We all have a moral duty to serve the long-term interests of the people of Illinois – to focus on the next generation, not the next election,” and concluded with his view that, "This is our last best chance to get our house in order, to restore good government.”

Governor Rauner noted that over the previous 12 years the state’s population had declined by 275,000 and that neighboring states saw significantly better job growth numbers. As he previewed last week in a speech in Decatur, Rauner took aim at the state’s public employee unions and construction trades, laying significant blame for the economic challenges facing the state at their feet. He outlined a series of related changes to state labor and campaign finance laws that he said would make Illinois more competitive and spur economic growth.

On the subject of tax reform, Rauner offered no specifics ahead of his Feb. 18 budget address, and instead called on lawmakers to join him in modernizing what he said was an out-of-date system with a base that is too narrow, making the state uncompetitive. There was also no mention was made of higher education.

Governor Rauner’s priorities, which he urged lawmakers to enact as an overall package rather than piecemeal, include:

Criminal Justice

  • Hire more correctional officers to improve safety in prisons
  • Build on corrections reforms like Adult Redeploy, which diverts offenders into community-based programming


  • Increase funding for K-12 education, early childhood education, and technical and vocational training
  • Lift the cap on public charter schools
  • Reduce education bureaucracy and educational mandates
  • Reduce the amount of standardized testing to permit more classroom learning time

Health Care

  • Ban political contributions by organizations funded by entities receiving state Medicaid funds

Labor & Economic Development

  • Change laws pertaining to workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and liability costs to help employers
  • Require unions that contract with the state, and those with members on public construction projects, to have apprenticeship programs that reflect the demographics of Illinois communities where they are located
  • Restructure bidding for state and local government construction projects with regard to project labor agreements and prevailing wage requirements reduce costs and generate additional dollars for infrastructure investment
  • Allow voters to create employee empowerment zones in which employees can decide whether or not to join a union
  • Ban political donations by unions with a state collective bargaining agreement
  • Raise the minimum wage from the present $8.25/hour to $10 over the next 7 years
  • Create a Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Program to assist minority entrepreneurs in startups throughout Illinois

Local Government/Property Taxes

Gov. Rauner indicated that by adopting these changes local governments would be able to freeze property taxes and free up funding for infrastructure projects:

  • Give voters the ability to control collective bargaining issues and employee benefit levels
  • Give local government employees the ability to decide for themselves whether they want to join a union. Give governments the ability to decide on whether to enter project labor agreements or support prevailing wage requirements
  • Give taxpayers the ability to consolidate local governments, of which Illinois has nearly 7,000 units, to control costs
  • Reduce the more than 280 unfunded state mandates on local governments
  • State Government
  • Change state employee compensation to pay for performance and award bonuses for those who find ways to save money
Legislative Leaders React to State of the State Address
State Budget Request

Governor Rauner has requested that lawmakers grant him emergency powers to manage the state’s budget – cutting programs, reducing spending and shifting funds across line items in order to address the deficit and bring spending in line with revenues. Democratic legislative leaders have not outright rejected the request, and noted that similar powers have occasionally been given to past governors. The nature, breadth and duration for which such authority might be given are ongoing subjects of discussion.  The Governor will introduce his budget on February 18th with the Budget Address to be held at noon.

Budget Vehicle Bill

The Senate also approved a vehicle bill, SB 273, which could be used to carry language addressing the projected $1.5 billion deficit in the current budget. (FY 2015, the current fiscal year, ends June 30.) That bill is now before the House.

Negotiations concerning the budget deficit are continuing between the governor’s office and the four legislative caucuses. Gov. Rauner is exploring special fund sweeps as one possible component to a solution.

Rep. Kelly Burke (House Higher Education Chair) and Sen. Pat McGuire (Senate Higher Education Chair) will each be introducing the University of Illinois budget bill.

Bill Review

To date, 831 bills have been introduced in the Senate and 1,556 have been introduced in the House. Members of the General Assembly have until February 27th to introduce bills. As they are filed, State Relations will review and reach out to the appropriate departments for comment. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have a questions/comment/concern on a piece of legislation.

State Relations Legislative Report

U of I Bills:

  SB813: Amends the County Cooperative Extension Law. Provides that the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Illinois may (was shall) establish a Rural Transition program.


UIS in the Capitol

The Illinois Senate Tuesday voted to establish February as Thirteenth Amendment Ratification Month in Illinois. The vote was part of a special ceremony, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. Matthew Holden Jr, a professor in political science at University of Illinois Springfield, addressed the Senate floor about its impact.

Legislative Priorities

Over the past few months, we have reached out to the three campuses and University Administration departments to develop a 2015 Policy Agenda. The University of Illinois legislative priorities will include but not be limited to: stable appropriations, capital improvements, and regulatory relief with the goal of improving our partnerships and relationships with associations, industry, and alumni throughout the state.

Budget-appropriations Hearing

The University of Illinois will testify in front of both the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations committee on March 19th beginning at 8:00 am.


As a next step, we will be presenting our 2015 Policy Agenda to the President of the Senate, Republican Leader, Speaker of the House, House Republican Leader and the Governor’s Office. We hope to work in conjunction with Illinois Connection, Illinois Extension, the business and labor industries, and other allies to promote this agenda.

President Killeen will be in the Capitol on March 10th and will be meeting with the following legislators: Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leader Radogno, Leader Durkin, Mike Zolnierowicz (Gov Chief of Staff), Rep. Dunkin (Approp. Higher Ed Chair), Rep. Burke (Higher Ed Chair), Sen. McGuire (Senate Higher Ed Chair), Sen. Kotowski (Senate Approp Chair).

Also on March 10th, Dr. Killeen will be presenting to and meeting with the University of Illinois Caucus.

2015 State Relations' Events, Save the Date
  • February 18th Budget Address
  • February 25th All Capitol U of I Caucus event (Brick house Downtown Springfield)
  • March 4th legislative basketball game watch party (Driftwood Springfield)
  • March 5th Ag Day breakfast
  • March 10th U of I Caucus meeting with Dr. Killeen
  • March 11th UIS Alumni in Government Breakfast
  • March 14th Labor Education Advisory Board
  • March 19th House and Senate Appropriations Hearing
  • April 15th Student Day at the Capitol & lunch with U of I Caucus
  • May 6th May Alumni in Government reception (invite U of I Caucus)
  • May 7th UI Day at the Capitol with BOT
99th General Assembly 2015 Legislative Calendar

Gov. Rauner is scheduled to give his Budget Address on February 18th. The Senate will be back in session on February 17th and the House on February 18th.

Senate Committee schedule

House Committee schedule

Illinois State Senate 2015 calendar

Illinois House of Representatives 2015 calendar