Rauner pushes budget plan during two-day tour
Gov. Bruce Rauner garnered attention for his statewide tour promoting his proposed budget and other reforms, but not all the attention was positive.
During the two-day tour, Rauner made an effort to put pressure on lawmakers to resolve the budget crisis. emphasised his commitment to key issues, including property tax relief, pension reform, more funding for education, government consolidation and term limits.
With stops in Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, Quincy, East Alton, Marion, Robinson and Champaign, Rauner criticized politicians for not putting more effort into getting a long-term budget in place. Instead, he compared the plan for another stop-gap budget to using duct tape to fix the problem.
Opponents to Rauner's plans say he should work harder at getting a state budget in place and less at promoting himself as a 2018 candidate.
Illinois Working Together, a group that states it advocates for working families, called the tour “shameful.”
"The question Illinois residents should be asking is: Why is Rauner campaigning for re-election when he has failed to propose a balanced budget, his most basic responsibility as governor?"Jake Lewis, the group's campaign director, said in a statement. "Instead of campaigning, the governor should drop the political games, propose a balanced budget, and do his job."
Rauner told crowds the tour was not a part of a re-election campaign. It was funded by political sources, not by taxpayers, as it was not considered state business.
"It's not a campaign," he said, according to the Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus. "It's communicating to the people of Illinois, communicating what's going on to get the state going in the right direction."
Illinois has been without a budget for 21 months and many government employees and service agencies have not been paid in that time. Rauner blamed the Democrats for the impasse.
“The majority in the General Assembly just wants to do a tax hike and tape over our problems," he said. "And I'm the one person who's pushing back against that because that would be a huge failure, and our children will not have a good future in Illinois."
Rauner has held out on raising taxes, which he claims would hurt working families. He plans to introduce a graduated tax on income that would target those who earn more than $1 million.
He told a Rock Island crowd that if taxes go up, businesses would be pushed out.
"This isn't about today's budget, this isn't about yesterday's budget, this isn't about, you know, some little deal," Rauner said, according to WVIK. This is about whether we are going to be on the track of prosperity with outstanding economic opportunity for everybody and a great education system for everybody so our children have a better future in Illinois. That's what this is about."
He said he believes the state should be better off than it is, economically speaking.
"We have the hardest working people in America," he said. "We have the best location of any state in America. We have the best transportation network of any state in America. We have the best agriculture of any state in America. We should be kicking tails.
"We've been going down a bad road for a long time in Illinois — losing jobs, taxes going through the roof, deficit spending, not funding our pensions properly, not funding our schools properly, not funding our human services, and still a lot of cronyism, and corruption and patronage."