GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner brought his campaign to Naperville Monday.
Speaking before a Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce lunch attended by about 200, Rauner called Illinois “the worst-run state in the country,” and put the lion’s share of the blame on the Illinois General Assembly.
“I’m here to go to work for you,” he said. “Our Springfield politicians are not working for you.”
Rauner said that if elected, his top priorities would be job creation, lower taxes, better schools, and, in what drew the biggest applause of the lunch, term limits.
Rauner said that he didn’t think that term limits was a perfect solution to the state’s fiscal problems, but stressed, “term limits can help a tremendous amount.”
On education, Rauner said that the state has consistently misspent dollars meant for education to the detriment of local school districts and their students.
“It’s outrageous that we don’t have the best education system in America,” he said.
On term limits, he pointed out that his effort at putting a referendum question on the November ballot calling for term limits had collected 596,000 signatures and, even after some of the votes were successfully challenged, there remained enough valid signatures to place it before the voters.
The possibility of a legal challenge to the referendum question remains and even Rauner admitted that it wouldn’t work wonders overnight. But he said that the likely result of a successful referendum would be that some long-time legislators would begin to retire.
On excessive regulations, Rauner pointed out that neighboring states like Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin had undertaken reform measures in recent years. He mentioned that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels had jokingly told him not to reform the Illinois Workman’s Compensation system, which he said was a factor in businesses leaving Illinois for its neighbor to the east.
Rauber said he told Daniels he would reform the system “so fast it will make your head spin.”
On same sex marriage, approved by the General Assembly in November 2013, Rauner said that he felt it was an issue best decided by popular referendum, but now that it was settled law, he had no desire to challenge it.
“I don’t have a social issues agenda,” he said, stressing that his agenda was strictly economic and business-oriented.
But it’s clear that not everyone believes his stance on same sex marriage.
Equality Illinois, a group supporting LGBT rights, has on its website Rauner’s quote about his preference for a referendum to decide the issue and that he would veto the law if he were governor.
When it was pointed out that Equality Illinois claims that he will work behind the scenes against the new law, Rauner flatly denied it.
“That’s false,” he said.
An audience member questioned Rauner about how it would be possible for him to reform the state’s finances when he might be facing a Democratic supermajority in the General Assembly. Rauner said that he planned on being an active, hands-on chief executive, making himself a regular presence on the floor of both houses.
He also pointed out that the legislative branch of Illinois government was only part of the process, noting that he planned to install pro-business appointees in executive positions.
Rauner is not happy with the recent budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly. The new budget lets the 2011 income tax increases expire, meaning the personal state income tax will drop from 5 percent to 3.75, and the corporate tax rate will go from 7 percent to 5.25.
Estimates are that letting the 2011 tax increases expire, combined with with no substantive spending cuts, will add another $2 billion to the pile of unpaid state bills, a debt that has climbed as high as $6 billion in recent years.
“They kicked the can down the road,” he said.
Chamber President and CEO Nicki Anderson said that the Naperville Chamber has yet to make any endorsement in the governor’s race, although it would likely do so before the election.
“We are business-centered,” she said. “If we have an opportunity to hear a candidate, we’re all ears.”Tags: Bruce Rauner, campaign, election