(Chicago) – Governor Bruce Rauner’s first official steps have brought a mixed reaction from lawmakers.
Immediately after being sworn in on Monday, Rauner issued an executive order that freezes state spending, new contracts, and suspends new highway projects not yet under construction.
“Major interstate construction projects which have not commenced will be reviewed,” according to Rauner’s press statement.
Springfield observers interpreted that statement as targeting the proposed Illiana Expressway championed by ex-Governor Pat Quinn and ex-Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
The Illiana Expressway , also known as the Illiana Corridor, is a controversial proposed 50-mile toll road in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana that connects I-55 in Illinois and I-65 in Indiana. The project is viewed as a potential economic engine in the south suburbs by local elected officials.
One of those officials backing the project is State Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields). Riley took to Twitter on Tuesday night to criticize Rauner’s “review” of the project.
“The Governor is getting in the way of progress despite all the work and collaboration between Illinois, Indiana and the federal government,” Riley posted.
The Governor is getting in the way of progress despite all the work and collaboration between Illinois, Indiana and the federal government.
— Al Riley (@repalriley) January 14, 2015
Riley’s tweet drew a “favorite” by State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park).
But a supporter of the Illiana project, State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) agreed with Rauner’s decision.
“I’m generally in favor of Illiana,” Sandack told The Illinois Observer. “But I think it is fair that he and his team review and scrutinize everything anew.”
Sandack also argued that the decision shows that Rauner has no “favorites.”
“The idea that any project is immune to review doesn’t make sense,” said Sandack. “I think that the governor is doing it the right way. He’s not playing favorites.”
On October 4, 2013, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s Transportation Committee voted 10-7, with 5 abstentions and 6 absences, to recommend to CMAP’s board that the Illiana Expressway be included in the GOTO 2040 plan. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s opposition pushed the full CMAP board to vote 10-4 on October 9 against the project’s inclusion in the regional plan.
Rauner’s has aggressively sought to cultivate African-American voters and leaders, such as Riley; so he’ll need to navigate between the demands of south suburban leader and those of Emanuel.
Meanwhile, in his firs full-day in office, Rauner signed an executive order which “tightens” ethical requirements on state employees that drew bi-partisan praise.
“Business as usual is over in Illinois and we need to regain the trust of the taxpayers,” Rauner said. “Today, we are showing the State of Illinois we have learned our lessons and are changing.”
Rauner’s Executive Order 15-09 bans the revolving door of executive branch and state agency employees from negotiating for a new position with a lobbyist or lobbying entity while employed. It also restricts former employees from accepting positions as a paid lobbyist or with a lobbying entity for one year after leaving their position.
It also further restricts gifts from prohibited sources by state employees, their spouse, or immediate family members living with that employee. They are not allowed to solicit or knowingly accept any gift from those sources.
Further, Rauner’s order expands what state employees must disclose on their statement of economic interests, which is already required under state law. State employees now must identify if they, their spouse or children under 18 have more than a 5 percent interest in a property in which the state is a tenant, lessor, or other interest in the property.
Additonally, state agencies are now required to have all employment contracts reviewed and approved by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB). The order also instructs the GOMB to conduct a thorough review of employment contracts within the State of Illinois to identify political, wasteful or other improper purposes.
“I applaud Gov. Rauner for making clear from the outset that his administration wants to strengthen transparency, accountability and ethics throughout state government,” State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) said in a statement provided to The Illinois Observer. “I share those goals and have worked in my time in the Legislature toward them, including a stronger economic interest statement.”
In a statement supplied to The Illinois Observer, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said, “In just his first day in office, Governor Rauner has zeroed in on restoring citizens’ faith in their government.”
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