Initiatives aim to advance agenda despite stalemate
By Kim Geiger – Chicago Tribune
Stymied at the statehouse by ruling Democrats, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is spending year two trying to shift government functions to the private sector.
Since January, he’s formed a private not-for-profit corporation to handle the state’s business recruitment efforts; announced a plan to allow private companies to build and manage new toll lanes along a congested stretch of the Stevenson Expressway; and called for private donors to step in to help the financially struggling state museums and fairgrounds.
And the first-term chief executive continues to insist the state should be allowed to expand its ability to outsource work to private contractors, one of the key stumbling blocks that has stalled negotiations on a new contract for unionized state workers.
The privatization push comes as state government remains stuck in a historic budget impasse centered on a fight between Rauner and Democratic leaders over his business-friendly, union-weakening legislative agenda. It’s a way for Rauner to show he’s working to fix the state’s financial mess even as the stalemate drives Illinois deeper into debt.
Tapping private-sector resources can relieve costly burdens on taxpayers and help government be more efficient, Rauner says.