Governor Rauner calls for a race to the top in Illinois during annual address

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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois -

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner sounds upbeat about breaking through barriers that keep his state down in the dumps.

"Illinois can once again be the economic engine of the Midwest," he said during the State of the State address on January 25, 2017.  "The home of innovation and prosperity for everyone."

That tall order is getting reinforcement in the Quad Cities.  A bipartisan effort kept Cordova's Exelon plant from shutting down.

"We were also able to save jobs in the Quad Cities and Clinton by passing legislation that assured plants would stay open," he continued.

But Democrats argue that Rauner ignored support from across the aisle, labor and chamber officials to save the plant.

"His heavy lifting was of a single pen to sign it," said Doug House, chairman of Rock Island County Democrats.

The governor also says that Illinois faces significant challenges from failing to be competitive.

"We've been at the bottom for far too long," he said.  "It's time we raced to the top."

House says its hard to improve higher education when university budgets are being slashed.

"It lacked detail," House continued.  "He talked about things that needed improvement, but he hasn't shown any effort to try to improve them."

The governor concludes with a unifying call to finally pass a budget.  He continues to press for his Turnaround Agenda of reforms.

"The way he has put this together, they are poison pills within the budget," House said.  "They are asking for too much from the Democrats in order for them to be able to work together."

Still conflict, though, on how to do that.

"We have a moral obligation to work together to bring change," Rauner concluded.  "We, together, can return Illinois to a place of hope, opportunity and prosperity."