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Brown’s Turnaround Agenda: Finding common ground with Rauner

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Are you growing tired of reading columns by me trashing Gov. Bruce Rauner, even if you happen to agree with me?

That’s funny, because I’m getting tired of writing them.

So in an effort to change it up a little, let’s try something different today, just this once.

Let us stipulate that I still think the Republican governor is a pox on the body politic and that his second annual State of the State address, delivered Wednesday in Springfield, was more of the same.

But instead of citing chapter and verse of what Rauner got wrong as is my normal inclination, let me try instead to emphasize the points on which I agree with him.

“Illinois is a wonderful place,” Rauner said.

Agreed. I wish Rauner would say this more often instead of constantly emphasizing how bad it is here.


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“Jobs and people have been leaving our state.”

There’s no sense arguing with the facts, although we might interpret them differently. Keeping and attracting jobs underlies most of Illinois’ problems.

“To bring good jobs to Illinois, we have to make Illinois a place where it is good to do business.”

True. To which I would add, it also helps to create a perception that this is a good place to do business, which hasn’t been Rauner’s approach.

I even agree with the governor that we should make a priority of doing something about fixing our workers compensation system to reduce costs to employers, although not in the manner Rauner insists.

Employers continue to cite workers comp costs as a major impediment to doing business here, despite changes to the law in 2011 that brought improvements. This requires a balancing act with the rights of workers, but if the jobs are leaving, something is out of balance.

“The people of Illinois deserve the chance to vote on term limits. . . . . This is the year to make that happen.”

Fine by me. As I’ve said several times, term limits are not going to help, but the voters of Illinois seem to want them and deserve the opportunity to decide for themselves. If they don’t act soon, I might not be around long enough to say, “I told you so.”

RELATED: Rauner says budget doable ‘if we work together’ — Dems say ‘he caused this’

Full text of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State Address

Rauner also said we need legislative redistricting reform.

Count me in. That’s one structural change that actually might make a difference, for a while, although it also could have some unintended effects. Voters deserve a chance to vote on that in 2016, too. If Democrats don’t like the remap amendment currently under consideration, they should author one of their own.

Rauner devoted a considerable portion of his speech to his efforts to “take on the compensation costs of our state government,” in particular its unionized work force.

Even though I am a union backer, I support in general the governor’s efforts to drive a hard bargain with state government’s largest union, AFSCME. That’s what the taxpayers want.

That doesn’t mean I won’t scream loud and hard if Rauner forges ahead in an effort to break the union. In that situation, Rauner may also find the public won’t have his back.

“President Cullerton and I have agreed to support his pension proposal that will save $1 billion a year from four of the state pension plans.”

Have at it. The Cullerton plan won’t solve the pension problem, even if it is found to be constitutional (no sure thing), but something’s gotta give.

Rauner touted a bipartisan commission’s criminal justice reform proposal that he says will send fewer people to prison without reducing public safety.

Let’s give it a try. The current system sure isn’t working.

“The key to rising family incomes, more high-paying jobs and a better life for everyone in Illinois is to have a high-quality, fully integrated education system from cradle to career, from early education to K-12 public schools to outstanding community colleges and universities, all the way to coordinated job training and technical training later in life.”

How very true.

So why then is Rauner currently starving the state’s universities of funding, withholding promised financial aid from needy college students and after-school funding for inner-city youth programs, and shamelessly rooting for the financial collapse of Chicago Public Schools?

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

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