Rauner: State finances are 'stunningly bad'

Republican Bruce Rauner tried to set the stage Thursday for the challenges he will face when he's sworn in as governor in January.

“The financial condition of the state of Illinois is stunningly bad,” Rauner said, speaking to reporters at the state Capitol in Springfield.

The Winnetka Republican started his transition into the job two weeks ago after being elected Nov. 4, working with Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's staff and a team to get prepared to take over.

“It's horrible,” Rauner said of the state's financial picture, also calling it “dire.”

He declined to say what taxes or cuts he'll be asking lawmakers to make, echoing a campaign where details on the matter were similarly scarce.

The incoming governor asked Quinn to impose a hiring freeze for the last couple of months of his term. Rauner said he doesn't know that Quinn has done any hiring or transferring of employees into protected jobs so they can keep their positions in a Rauner administration.

“It's good management practice not at the tail end of an administration to put in people, friends, affiliates, into positions,” Rauner said.

Quinn's staff said the office wouldn't commit to a freeze. Spokeswoman Katie Hickey said Quinn has “directed cabinet members to manage their agencies in a responsible manner” to ensure basic state operations continue.

Rauner echoed his call that lawmakers not take major action in the coming weeks before he's sworn in.

The Illinois Senate has started moving an increase in the minimum wage while Quinn, who supports the move, is still in office.

Rauner says he supports raising it if paired with major business policy changes.

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