Tag: closure

Bruce Rauner’s War on Downstate Illinois

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.

Agricultural education

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.

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While Illinois doesn’t have a state budget, the University of Illinois hires a new football coach

It is pretty clear to me that the State of Illinois, under the failed leadership of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, is completely incapable of adequately funding state universities, including Chicago State University (which is laying off its entire workforce) and Eastern Illinois University (which is in serious trouble financially due to a lack of state funding).

Yet that hasn’t stopped our state’s flagship university, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), from hiring a new coach for the university’s football team. Lovie Smith, a former NFL coach, was hired by UIUC to be the university’s new head football coach. I’ve not received any word on what Lovie’s annual salary will be, but I’m guessing that it’s a lot more than any elected official in Illinois makes, and that a significant chunk of it will be paid by Illinois taxpayers.

Bruce Rauner’s Illinois has the wrong priorities. While Rauner is completely unwilling to fund higher education in Illinois, Rauner has no problem with public universities shelling out big bucks for football coaches.

Alabama Republicans deliberately trying to keep black people from voting

In 2011, Alabama Republicans used their complete control of the state government to enact a voter ID law, which required Alabama voters to present a driver’s license or some other form of photo identification to election officials in order to be able to vote.

Yesterday, Alabama closed 31 driver’s license offices in 30 different Alabama counties, and many of the offices that were closed were in predominantly-black counties. Here are the facts about how the closures disproportionately affect black Alabamans:

  • The ten Alabama counties with the highest percentage of registered non-white voters are Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry, Wilcox, Dallas, Hale, and Montgomery. Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in eight, or 80%, of those ten counties, with only Dallas and Montgomery counties not affected by the closures. In the other 57 Alabama counties, Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in 24, or 42%, of those counties.
  • All Alabama counties where more than 75% of registered voters are black have seen driver’s license offices in those counties closed.
  • In the 2012 presidential election, 15 of Alabama’s 67 counties voted for the Democratic ticket of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in eight of those counties, or 53% of the counties that voted for Obama. Conversely, 52 of Alabama’s 67 counties voted for the Republican ticket of presidential candidate Mitt Romney and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. In those 52 counties, Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in 22, or 42%, of those counties.
  • In the five Alabama counties that gave Obama/Biden the highest percentages of the vote (Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, and Bullock), Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in all five of those counties. In the five counties that gave Romney/Ryan the highest percentages of the vote (Blount, Winston, Cullman, Cleburne, and St. Clair), Alabama has closed driver’s license offices in only three of those counties (Winston, Cleburne, and St. Clair).

(sources here and here)

In case you’re wondering which Alabama county had two driver’s license offices closed, that would be Tallapoosa County, which gave Romney/Ryan nearly 66% of the vote in the 2012 presidential election.

It’s 100% clear to me that the driver’s license office closures in Alabama disproportionately affect black Alabamans, and that the Republicans who run Alabama’s state government are deliberately trying to prevent black people from voting. Jim Crow is, sadly, alive and well in Alabama.