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Rauner cites property taxes, workers' compensation fraud as small business woes

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner met with business owners in Edwardsville, Illinois on January 16.
Kae Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner met with business owners in Edwardsville on Tuesday

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner pledged Tuesday to help small business owners by addressing “punishing” high property taxes and “too many” regulations.

Calling taxes and regulations burdens that drive small businesses to the neighboring states of Missouri and Indiana, Rauner said he wants to curtail them to bring businesses back.

“Every challenge we face in Illinois could be overcome if we have faster economic growth,” Rauner said after speaking to business owners in Edwardsville.

The Republican governor said his “number one priority” is creating jobs and growing companies to improve quality of life in Illinois.

Several business owners told reporters that they were glad Rauner listened to their concerns.

Mike Rathgeb, owner of Metro East construction company Spencer Homes, said that Illinois’ decreasing population worries him.

“Maybe we can turn things around, get job growth, get people moving back into our state," Rathgeb said. "Because I know that my business and my employees depend on good growth in this state.”

One business owner from the area said that high property taxes make it harder to keep qualified employees in the state. Another said that contributing to workers’ compensation in Illinois costs much more than in neighboring states.

Rauner blamed workers’ compensation fraud for some of employers’ high expenses.

“Our workers’ comp system — it’s full of fraud and abuse,” Rauner said. “Our workers’ comp rates are some of the highest in America, much higher than over in Missouri or much higher than over in Indiana.”

In recent years, several bills have been proposed in Illinois to control workers’ compensation fraud.

Follow Kae Petrin on Twitter: @kmaepetrin

Kae Petrin covers public transportation and housing as a digital reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.