Yesterday, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner stood inside the Illinois State Capitol and falsely accused Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly of holding public education hostage for being unable to pass a state budget against Rauner’s veto threats.
The truth of the matter is that Rauner is the one holding Illinois hostage.
Bruce Rauner has repeatedly refused to support raising Illinois’s income tax in order to pay for essential and important state government services, such as transportation and public education. Instead, Rauner has repeatedly demanded so-called “reforms” designed to drive down the wages of working Illinoisans in exchange for a state budget. That is hostage politics.
The truth of the matter is that Illinois needs an income tax increase, as well as eliminating corporate tax breaks and loopholes, plus cuts in wasteful spending like corporate welfare, to put the state back on a path to fiscal responsibility. Bruce Rauner just doesn’t get it.
Showing complete disrespect for the separation of church and state that is mandated by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner held a prayer breakfast at the Illinois Executive Mansion in Springfield earlier today.
It’s bad enough that Rauner chose to hold a religious event on state government property. It’s even worse that Rauner chose to do so while Illinois lacks a state budget due to Rauner’s right-wing hostage politics of demanding anti-worker policies designed to drive down the wages of working Illinoisans in exchange for a state budget.
I hope that Illinois’s next governor decides to end the unconstitutional tradition of holding a state prayer breakfast.
Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has, despite winning a very large percentage of the downstate vote in the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial election, waged a war on downstate Illinois ever since taking office, much of which involves, either directly or indirectly, his political hostage-taking in regards to the state budget (which Illinois has operated without for a very long time because of Rauner).
There are several reasons why Rauner’s destructive politics has negatively impacted downstate Illinois.
Rauner has, as recently as March of this year, targeted agricultural education, which has helped thousands of Illinois farmers better understand the land and farming practices, for complete elimination of state funding. This is obviously a blatant attack against downstate Illinois by Rauner, since nearly all of the agricultural industry’s economic activity in Illinois occurs downstate.
Higher education funding in general
It’s not just agricultural education that has been negatively impacted by Rauner’s War on Higher Education. Higher education in general, and, in particular, Eastern Illinois University, have felt the wrath of Rauner since taking office. Rauner has refused to fund public higher education institutions in Illinois. Eastern Illinois University, which serves a very conservative region of the state, has been forced to lay off nearly 200 employees and is on the brink of being forced to permanently shut down.
Illinois State Museum
Another casualty of Rauner’s War on Downstate is the Illinois State Museum, which is located in Springfield. The state museum was forced to close due to the lack of a state budget, meaning that the art exhibits, natural history exhibits, and other exhibits housed at the state museum are not accessible to the public.
Whoever Democrats nominate in the 2018 election for Governor of Illinois will have to address the concerns of downstate voters in order to defeat Bruce Rauner.
I haven’t written much about Illinois state politics in recent months, largely because there’s not much going on due to the ongoing state government shutdown.
However, the website of The New York Times has published this report on how a handful of wealthy individuals, some of which aren’t Illinois residents, are holding the state of Illinois hostage by way of big-money politics:
In the months since, Mr. (Kenneth C.) Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.
Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.
Many of those giving, like Mr. Griffin, come from the world of finance, an industry that has yielded more of the new political wealth than any other. The Florida-based leveraged-buyout pioneer John Childs, the private equity investor Sam Zell and Paul Singer, a prominent New York hedge fund manager, all helped elect Mr. Rauner, as did Richard Uihlein, a conservative businessman from the Chicago suburbs.
In short, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on his gubernatorial campaign last year, also spent millions upon millions of dollars of money from a handful of wealthy individuals, and now Rauner is holding Illinois hostage by demanding a Scott Walker-style far-right economic agenda that would hurt Illinois’s economy in return for a functional state government.
To the Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly and the people of Illinois, I have two words for ya’ll: No surrender! Illinois cannot afford busting unions, driving down wages, making it harder for working Illinoisans who are injured on the job to get workers’ compensation benefits, cuts to pension benefits, and every other item of right-wing economic policy that would hurt Illinois’s economy by taking away disposable income from Illinois consumers. Illinois cannot afford surrendering to Bruce Rauner and his big-money cronies from the finance industry.