BEDFORD PARK, Ill. (FOX 32 News) - Bruce Rauner used a suburban steel processing plant Sunday to dramatize his plea for a "grand compromise" on new revenue and reforms. As in recent months, the governor avoided attacks on top Democrats.
Rauner did take issue with Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) characterizing his proposed pro-taxpayer reforms as "Rauner's personal agenda."
William Hickey, owner of the Bedford Park factory Rauner visited, said virtually every item in what Rauner once called his "Turnaround Agenda" would help his company to create more jobs. Hickey is president and chief executive of Lapham-Hickey Steel, founded by his grandfather. It employs about 170 in the 5500 block of 73rd Street. They are now busy enough at the site to contemplate expanding and land is available behind the existing plant.
But Hickey, who has operations in several other states, told FOX 32 News that taxes and workers compensation costs here make it a challenge to stay competitive. Hickey said his property taxes in Bedford Park are higher than the combined property taxes of every other facility his company has.
A large number of Hickey's suppliers, customers and competitors have moved jobs out of Illinois in recent years. Even as unemployment has dropped and the state has added jobs, Illinois's manufacturing sector continues to lose thousands of jobs each month.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul is a Democrat who says he's willing to work with the Republican governor, specifically on reducing the very high cost in Illinois of insurance employers must buy to cover workers injured on the job. But he's skeptical a "grand compromise" -- as Rauner calls it -- on taxes and broad-ranging reforms will actually get done.
Asked to estimate the prospects on a scale of one to ten, Raoul said, "I do not know how to put the numbers on it, because Springfield is so unpredictable. It's shame on us if we don't."