SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner moved quickly to address Illinois' budget mess Monday, taking the oath of office and then ordering state agencies to immediately freeze all non-essential spending.
The wealthy businessman told those at his inauguration ceremony in Springfield that Illinois has become less competitive and that businesses and residents have fled the state because of lawmakers' history of spending money the state doesn't have. He said addressing the multibillion-dollar budget hole and other problems will require sacrifice, but is the only way to turn Illinois around.
"Each person here today and all those throughout the state will be called upon to share in the sacrifice so that one day we can again share in Illinois's prosperity," he said. "We all must shake up our old ways of thinking.
Rauner said he's also ordering a review of all state contracts issued since Nov. 1 and cutting his own salary to $1. As he promised during the campaign, he's also declining all benefits, including a pension.
Rauner, a private equity investor from Winnetka who is holding public office for the first time, defeated Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in November to become Illinois' 42nd governor. He's the first Republican to lead the state since George Ryan left office in 2003.
He told a cheering crowd Monday that Illinois has an ethical crisis in addition to its financial problems, and said he'll take action Tuesday to strengthen ethics in the executive branch.
"I will send a clear signal to everyone in our state, and to those watching from outside our borders, that business as usual is over," Rauner said. "It stops now."
Rauner also pledged to work with Democrats, who hold veto-proof majorities in the Illinois House and Senate.
Other statewide officials also are taking the oath of office Monday. They are Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White and Treasurer Michael Frerichs, all Democrats, and Comptroller Leslie Munger and Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, both Republicans.
Rauner started the day at an interfaith service at a downtown Springfield church where Abraham Lincoln once worshipped. Muslim, Jewish and Christian religious leaders took part in the service, including Catholic Archbishop Blase Cupich and Baptist Rev. James Meeks.
On Sunday, Rauner launched celebrations in Springfield that included a museum visit, a veterans' job fair and swanky $1,000-a-plate dinner at the Illinois Capitol.
Associated Press writers Sophia Tareen and John O'Connor contributed to this report.