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More State Police Needed To Stop Chicago Expressway Shootings, Rauner Says

By Heather Cherone | February 15, 2017 12:45pm | Updated on February 15, 2017 2:33pm
 Two people were shot to death in a seven-hour span on the Eisenhower Expy. Thursday.
Two people were shot to death in a seven-hour span on the Eisenhower Expy. Thursday.
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Flickr/edward stojakovic

CHICAGO — Gov. Bruce Rauner Wednesday called on state lawmakers to expand the State Police and assign more troopers to patrol Chicago area expressways, where shootings rose in 2016.

The 2017 spending plan proposed by Rauner includes funding for two new cadet classes, Rauner said in his budget speech delivered in Springfield.

"Those officers will allow us to send more patrols to the Chicago area expressways to counter the violence that has spilled over on to the highways," Rauner told legislators.

Rauner's proposal would add 170 new troopers to the department. The first class of 85 troopers would graduate in December 2017 followed by the second class of 85 graduates in 2019.

The two cadet classes would cost the state $10.5 million, according to Rauner's proposed spending plan.

There were 47 shootings on Chicago area expressways in 2016.

There were 39 similar shootings in all of 2015.

RELATED: Read Transcript of Gov. Rauner's Speech

The governor said the state's "unbalanced budgets, our crushing tax burdens, our restrictive regulations" have "held back the Illinois economy for decades."

He said the state has lost 540,000 residents over the last six years — people who have been "voting with their feet" for jobs, higher wages and lower costs of living.

"If we had the right policies – if we’d made changes to fix our broken system – if we had just grown our economy at the national average, since 2000, we’d have 650,000 more jobs than we have today," he said.

In a report issued last May, the U.S. Census said Chicago lost nearly 3,000 residents in 2015, second only to Detroit. In recent years there's been little growth in the city as a whole, with most of the drain coming from the South and West sides. However, there has been an increase in some neighborhoods, mostly around Downtown and in parts of the Northwest Side.

The governor also touted selling the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop, first proposed last October.

"For years, the state has failed to properly maintain the building and now we face deferred maintenance costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars," Rauner said of the distinctive glass structure at 100 W. Randolph St.

"Everyone benefits from the sale. The city of Chicago stands to gain major new property tax revenue, along with the jobs that come with a massive development. The state could see a net gain of over $200 million from the sale, helping us close the budget deficit in the next fiscal year," he said.

The budget address also included a permanent property tax freeze for the state.

"Over time, as our economy grows and revenues expand, any increase in the income tax could be stepped down — dedicating future surpluses to taxpayers, not more government spending," the governor said.