Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

GOP's Rauner Sworn in as Illinois Governor, Freezes Spending

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

GOP's Rauner Sworn in as Illinois Governor, Freezes Spending

Article excerpt

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. * Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner moved quickly to address Illinois' budget mess Monday, taking the oath of office and then ordering state agencies to immediately freeze all nonessential spending.

The wealthy businessman told those at his inauguration ceremony in Springfield that Illinois has become less competitive and that businesses and residents have fled the state because of high taxes and overregulation. He said addressing the multibillion-dollar budget hole and other problems will require sacrifice but is the only way to turn Illinois around.

"Each person here today and all those throughout the state will be called upon to share in the sacrifice so that one day we can again share in Illinois' prosperity," he said. "We all must shake up our old ways of thinking."

Democrats, who hold veto-proof majorities in the Illinois House and Senate, criticized Rauner's speech as rhetoric that was short on specifics. They said the real test will come next month, when the new governor will have to propose a budget for next year.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, called parts of Rauner's speech inaccurate, saying he seemed unaware of some of the progress the state has made in the past six years.

He said Rauner, who is holding office for the first time, "is going to have to learn about state government" and the budget.

Cullerton and other Democrats also said it was unclear what impact, if any, the spending freeze would have.

"I don't know exactly what that means, and I don't know if he does either, but it sounds great," Cullerton said.

Rauner said he's also ordering a review of all state contracts issued since Nov. 1, cutting his own salary to $1 and declining all benefits, including a pension.

He said he also plans to ask legislators during the coming weeks to work with him on a jobs and economic package aimed at putting people back to work. …

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