Rauner wants hiring freeze; other big issues on hold in Illinois Legislature amid transition



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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner called on Gov. Pat Quinn to freeze hiring in the final weeks of his term, saying Thursday he wants to prevent a repeat of previous governors that have handed out jobs or cushy appointments to friends on their way out the door.

The Winnetka Republican said he has no reason to believe Quinn is doing anything inappropriate "today," but said such a freeze is "good management practice."

Quinn's office wouldn't commit to that, however, saying the Chicago Democrat has instructed state agencies to act responsibly to ensure basic operations continue.

Rauner spoke at the Capitol, where he was meeting with elected officials ahead of taking office Jan. 12. His presence already is being felt in the Legislature, as lawmakers cut the first week of the fall session short and headed home a day early without action on major issues such as raising the minimum wage.

Some lawmakers — particularly Republicans — say they're heeding Rauner's request to wait to take major action. But others said they're happy to leave messy problems, such as addressing Illinois' budget crisis, to the new governor.

"He's the one that said 'Don't do that,'" Senate President John Cullerton told The Associated Press, noting that lawmakers would not address an extension of the state's income tax increase, set to roll back in January, until the new term. "He's got a little honeymoon period so we're giving him his first victory."

Cullerton said his meeting Thursday with Rauner was largely procedural, including talk about the Chicago Democrat's office being able to vet gubernatorial appointments — many of which rely on Senate confirmation — before they are announced.

Meanwhile, the Senate overrode a veto of a measure aimed at increasing the speed limit on Chicago-area interstates to 70 miles per hour. It now goes to the House.

Democratic state Rep. Mike Zalewski formally abandoned plans Thursday to call for an override of Quinn's veto on bills imposing regulations on the ride-sharing industry, which includes businesses such as Uber and Lyft.

Instead, Zalewski, of Riverside, announced a so-called "framework" of new ridesharing legislation, on which taxi and ridesharing companies have agreed cooperate with. Quinn and Rauner, at odds during most of the bitter governor's race, both opposed the bill that Quinn vetoed in August.

"It was a hot-button issue during the governor's race," Zalewski said. "Members understand that, but (many) felt they were put in a difficult position."

Also Thursday, Rauner said Auditor General William Holland is conducting a "turnover audit" of the state's financials, which he said will be critical to understanding the depths of Illinois' "stunningly bad" fiscal problems. He didn't discuss how he'll make up for billions of dollars of revenue that'll be lost when the income tax rate rolls back Jan. 1, but he said he'll be ready to present a budget address in February, as scheduled.

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