Tag: Illinois budget

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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Bruce Rauner’s education funding hypocrisy

In yesterday’s State of the State of Illinois address, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner publicly criticized funding cuts to education and called for fully funding public education in Illinois.

There’s one problem with that…the guy who cut funding to public education in Illinois is…you guessed it, Bruce Rauner. In fact, a few months ago, Rauner gave away corporate welfare to food producing conglomerate ConAgra Foods while public education was being starved of funding:

As fate would have it, Governor Bruce Rauner revealed his plan to fork over as much as $1.26 million a year in tax credits to ConAgra Foods at roughly the same time parents were packing a Board of Education hearing room to protest the latest CPS cuts in special education.

So our dead-broke state has millions for Fortune 500 corporations but not enough money to educate our poorest, most vulnerable children. 

It’s something to keep in mind the next time the governor tells you it’s all about the kids.

Not only is Bruce Rauner dropping g’s, he’s dropping the ball when it comes to funding public education here in Illinois.

Bruce Rauner tries to buy votes from his own party’s legislators, some Republicans won’t take his money

In May of this year, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner sent out campaign donations, totaling $400,000, to every single Republican member of the Illinois General Assembly. Since there are a total of 67 Republicans in the General Assembly (47 in the state house, 20 in the state senate), that means that the average donation from Rauner to legislative Republicans is, rounded to the nearest cent, $5,970.15; the donations range anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

According to a (Decatur) Herald & Review report, several state legislators have refused to cash their checks from Rauner: 22 of the 67 Republicans (16 of 47 in the state house, 6 of 20 in the state senate) have not yet cashed their checks from Rauner. Given that the checks were doled out by Rauner in May, not long before the end of the spring General Assembly session and in the midst of a political stalemate over Rauner’s hostage politics over the state budget that is still ongoing, the Republicans who are claiming that Rauner is trying to buy their votes have every right to make that claim, since it’s 100% clear to this stubborn-headed progressive Democrat that Rauner is trying to buy off members of his own party.

To me, this says two things about Rauner. First, Rauner is a weak politician, since he’s not really trying to work with the Democrats who hold the supermajorities in the General Assembly. Second, Rauner is trying to buy support for his anti-worker, anti-middle class agenda from members of his own party, who are in the minority in both houses of the General Assembly.

The Metro-East doesn’t like Bruce Rauner’s destructive 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.

Rauner 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.

Bruce Rauner paying former charter school executive $250,000 per year out of the budget of a social services agency

You may remember Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hiring Beth Purvis, a former Chicago charter school executive, to a newly-created post that could best be described as an “education czar”.

Well, you may be surprised about where the money for Purvis’s ridiculously high $250,000/year salary is coming from.

Rauner is paying Purvis’s $250,000/year salary out of the budget of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS is not responsible for overseeing education in Illinois (the Illinois State Board of Education oversees K-12 education at the state level in Illinois), instead, it’s a government agency that, among other things, administers social safety net programs run by the state and provides assistance to people with developmental disabilities. This revelation comes not long after Rauner authorized a funding cut of $26 million from DHS, which would make it harder for Illinoisans who need the state’s social safety net to survive and get their lives back on track to get the help they need.

Democratic Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who is the chairman of the Illinois House Human Services Appropriations Committee, has called for Rauner to testify over cutting funding meant to help our state’s most vulnerable residents and using it to pay the ridiculously high salary of a mouthpiece for Rauner’s political agenda to destroy public education in Illinois (official letter here). I agree with Harris on this issue, because it’s absolutely ridiculous for Rauner to cut funding from the most vulnerable Illinoisans and give it to his political cronies.

Bruce Rauner and his allies raided Illinois transportation funds

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post has no intention whatsoever of running against Republican Illinois State Representative Chad Hays and is not in any way affiliated with Better Roads Ahead.

My governor and state representative, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) and State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin, IL), helped raid hundreds of millions of dollars from funds collected from state gasoline taxes, which are supposed to be used to pay for road construction and maintenance. In typical Illinois fashion, Rauner, Hays, and their ilk decided to use the money for other purposes.

A political front group called Better Roads Ahead, an organization that supports repairing and replacing Illinois’s structurally deficient bridges, sent my household this mailer attacking Rauner and Hays for putting the lives of Illinoisans at risk:

Better Roads Ahead Flyer - Front
Better Roads Ahead Flyer – Front
Better Roads Ahead Flyer - Back
Better Roads Ahead Flyer – Back

To give readers of this blog post a general idea of how terrible the condition of our nation’s infrastructure is, I strongly recommend reading and viewing this 60 Minutes feature about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. You’d be absolutely shocked at how terrible the condition of our nation’s roads, railroads, and bridges are.

I find it highly disgusting that Rauner, Hays, and their ilk would use taxpayer money collected from state gasoline taxes, which are supposed to be used to fund road construction and maintenance here in Illinois, and use the money for other purposes. I would only support raiding transportation funds and using them for other purposes if our state’s politicians literally had no other option available to them to balance the state budget. The actions of our state’s politicians could result in bridge collapses that could kill tens of people. After all, if it happened in Minnesota, it could certainly happen here in Illinois.

To put it mildly, Illinoisans simply cannot afford the Rahm-Rauner-Hays corporate agenda, especially when it comes to transportation.

Bruce Rauner: Republican for Cancer

Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner proposed funding cuts to, among other things, the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) in his state budget, as well as cuts to programs designed to encourage Illinoisans to end their addiction to tobacco products.

These cuts are strongly opposed by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), which issued this statement in opposition to the proposed cuts:

IBCCP helps thousands of women get their doctor-recommended mammograms every year, connecting uninsured and underinsured Illinois women with potentially life-saving screenings. From 2007 to 2012, the state program detected 727 invasive breast cancers and 1,490 cervical cancers and precancerous lesions.

Maintaining funding and eligibility for IBCCP will preserve a critical safety net for thousands of women in our state who will not qualify for Medicaid this year. It’s our hope the General Assembly will restore cuts to this program for the sake of all Illinois women.

Illinois’ tobacco prevention and cessation programs have made great strides in reducing youth and adult smoking rates. However, the state currently spends only nine percent of the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended funding level, jeopardizing lives that could be saved by reducing tobacco use.

Tobacco not only leaves a serious mark on our state’s physical health. It also places a heavy burden on its economic health. This year, smoking will cost Illinois more than $8.3 billion, further straining its already difficult financial situation. Maintaining funding for tobacco prevention and cessation would be a wise use of state dollars. It would help prevent needless tobacco-related deaths and reduce the excessive costs of tobacco use.

We understand Illinois continues to face tough financial choices, but fighting cancer should always be a top policy priority. We look forward to reviewing Governor Rauner’s complete budget proposal and working with lawmakers to restore funding to these critical programs.

Make no mistake about it, Bruce Rauner’s barbaric budget would result in more Illinoisans being diagnosed with cancer due to a lack of state funding for programs that make it easier for Illinois women to receive breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as encourage Illinoisans to end their addiction to cancer-causing tobacco products. Bruce Rauner is not compassionate, and he apparently doesn’t realize how devastating cancer can be to those who are affected by it.

I hope that the Illinois General Assembly restores funding to breast and cervical cancer screening programs and tobacco cessation programs, and, if necessary, overrides any kind of Rauner veto to these programs.