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.
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.
Starting today, Illinois state government employees won’t get their paychecks that they earned because Republican Governor Bruce Rauner shut down our state’s government and is holding the people of Illinois as political hostages because he wants a series of non-fiscal political policy proposals, which don’t belong in the state budget, to be rammed into law as part of the state budget.
The political ransom that Rauner is demanding includes:
- Changes to rules pertaining to liability lawsuits and workers’ compensation designed to make it harder for Illinoisans to receive compensation from those who legally wronged them and to pay for medical expenses related to on-the-job injuries.
- Enacting term limits for high-ranking Illinois politicians, which, depending on the specific language of the legislation on that subject, I may or may not support as a separate measure to put a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution on the ballot, but not as part of the state budget.
- Enacting a more impartial and/or more independent method for congressional and/or state legislative redistricting, which is something that I would support as a separate measure to put a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution on the ballot, but not as part of the state budget.
None of these items that Rauner is demanding have very little, if anything at all, to do with the state’s budget or the state’s finances, and policy proposals, regardless of my opinion on the policy proposals themselves, should be dealt with as separate legislation from the state budget.
Sadly, Rauner has repeatedly advocated for shutting our state’s government down as part of his hostage politics scheme. Rauner needs to realize that the State of Illinois is not his plantation, and that he can’t buy and bully his way to enacting a right-wing, anti-worker political agenda.
The people of Belleville, Illinois, located in the heart of St. Clair County in the Metro-East region of Illinois (the Illinois portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area), are certainly no fans of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s destructive political agenda.
held a campaign event made an appearance in Belleville to promote his agenda of screwing hard-working Illinoisans over by, among other things, repealing our state’s prevailing wage law, making it harder for people to sue businesses that wronged them, and cutting funding to government services that many Illinoisans rely on. This drew many hard-working Illinoisans to Rauner’s event in Belleville, where they protested him and his destructive agenda.
Rauner has made it clear that he is willing to hold our state’s budget hostage and buy off politicians to get his way. Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly need to hold firm against Rauner’s agenda by not caving to Rauner’s demands. Illinoisans from every corner of this state are waking up and realizing how terrible the Rauner agenda would be for themselves and their fellow Illinoisans.