Republican Governor Rauner’s insistence that non-budget items be part of a budget deal with the Democrat controlled legislature was a principal contributor to Illinois’ failure to enact a comprehensive budget by the normal May 31st deadline. The Governor’s non-budget items (his “turnaround agenda” including union and workers’ compensation “reforms”) were anathema to the Democrat controlled legislature. Ultimately, the parties agreed to a “stopgap” funding measure to allow schools to open this fall but this was a far cry from the comprehensive budget which has eluded Illinois for the last 2 years.
Now, Governor Rauner has decided that his “turnaround agenda” will have to await the election this November when he hopes that Republicans will wrest control of the legislature from the Democrats. The “turnaround agenda” contains Rauner’s pet non-budget items. However, it appears extremely unlikely that November will bring the Governor the results he desires and he will be faced with a rerun of the last 2 years.
The Governor’s insistence that Illinois’ workers’ compensation laws are in need of serious reform was not helped at all by National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) which just released its advisory rates for 2017 and recommended an average rate reduction of 12.9% for workers’ compensation insurance in Illinois. The NCCI advisory rates were greeted by Democrats in the Illinois legislature as proof that the reforms made in 2011, prior to Governor Rauner’s election, were having the desired effect of controlling costs and reducing insurance rates.
Will Rauner trim his sails? CRAINS, the business publication, which supported Rauner in his election for Governor 2 years ago because it believed he would work across the aisle, is not necessarily optimistic. Editorial Board, Gov. Rauner, You’ve Proved Us Wrong (June 25, 2016): “By nearly every measure, the state is worse off since Rauner took office….It’s time for the governor to redefine victory [and delay his “turnaround agenda”]….Craft a balanced budget [the first in 25 years] ….If Rauner could deliver one, that alone would be a major accomplishment.”
So Governor Rauner, will such a meaningful half loaf be enough?

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