This Paper #50 in The Simon Review Series.


The purpose of this research is to study Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, which he initially unveiled in 2015 after taking office. His plan was meant to overhaul state government with goals that were largely focused on keeping businesses in Illinois and convincing new businesses to take root, but proposals like limiting union power and decreasing workers’ compensation costs for employers have kept him at odds with Democratic lawmakers like House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. This has led to an unprecedented budget stalemate in the Capitol as neither side is willing to compromise. Now, after two years of gridlock between Governor Rauner and Democrats in the Illinois House and Senate, the governor has had to put many items of his original 44-point Turnaround Agenda on hold. His wish list is down to seven key points: term limits, workers’ compensation reform, education funding reform, a property tax freeze, pension reform, redistricting reform, and creating local “employee empowerment zones”. Since the governor has said time and time again that the state’s policies and economic climate causes residents and businesses to move to surrounding states, for each of the seven items I have outlined the background of the issue, the plan put forth by Governor Rauner, and drawn comparisons to the policies in place in neighboring states. Through these comparisons, readers can make comparisons with the competitor states as to whether these states are more business-friendly, how accurate the governor’s claims are, and what Illinois could potentially look like under the laws of its surrounding states.