Rauner's message on growing the economy stirs interest in House District 56
The Republican candidate for the House seat in District 56 heard Gov. Bruce Rauner's call for job creation through the passage of workers’ compensation reform, pension reform and property tax relief during his State of the State address on Wednesday loud and clear.
Rauner said workers’ compensation issues in the state are the “biggest factor” in Illinois’ job losses. The unemployment rate in the state is 6 percent; nationally, the rate sits at 5.5 percent.
“First of all, we need to create an economy that inspires others to create businesses,” Jillian Bernas, who is vying for the District 56 House post, told North Cook News. “When people are disheartened by all of these pressures and regulations on them, they aren’t inspired to create businesses.”
During his address, Rauner announced behind the scenes work that has taken place with Senate President John Cullerton to get a bipartisan proposal that would cut pension spending by $1 billion.
“We’re definitely going to have to change the way that pensions are funded in order to better provide services to families in our communities that need them,” Bernas told North Cook News.
Rauner also addressed union and tort issues, saying both needed to be reined in if the state is to grow economically.
“I understand that union leaders and trial lawyers are putting pressure on you to keep the status quo, but if we don’t offer a competitive environment for businesses, pretty soon the unions won't have any more jobs to unionize and the trial lawyers won't have any more businesses to sue,” Rauner said.
As a former teacher, Bernas said he agreed with the governor's’ stance on merit-based pay.
“I know that when I was working I was always encouraged to perform better knowing that I would get a bonus or maybe get encouraged with maybe a little special incentive,” Bernas told North Cook News. “I know it worked for me.”
During his speech, Rauner also pushed for term limits on elected officials and for redistricting reform.
“Like it or not, there’s a serious deficit in public trust when it comes to government in Illinois,” Rauner said. “We need to regain public trust.”
Bernas said she agrees with the need for term limits, saying sometimes politicians enjoy the power too much. She says term limits would embolden innovation in the state.
“I think they give an opportunity for new people to step in with new ideas, and it also doesn’t discourage people from running for office. I think a lot of people are discouraged to take leadership roles. They think they could never possibly be in a position to help this state, so they’re afraid to take it on,” Bernas said.
Rauner outlined 10 long-term goals he hopes to accomplish, beginning with increased state funding for underserved students. His plan calls for sending more resources to low-income and rural districts without taking it from others.
“I guess I can definitely say that the debate in Springfield has changed, Bernas said. “Today the governor outlined the next steps. We must make even bigger changes, I think, in 2016 that we’ve been thinking about making … especially if Illinois is going to be a place where families chose to live and work, and then also a place where they can afford to live and work.”
Democrat incumbent District 56 Rep. Michelle Mussman did not respond to requests for comments on this story.