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Rauner campaigns in metro-east, touts need for balanced budget, reforms

Belleville News Democrat

Thursday, April 13, 2017  |  Article  |  By Joseph Bustos

Budget--State (8) , Candidates--Statewide (12) , Governor (44) , Taxes, misc. (89)
Kathleen Eddy, a senior citizen from Alton, has a 53-year-old son with severe developmental disabilities who goes to the Tazwell County Resource Center for services.

The state budget impasse affects funding for her son’s day services, said Eddy, a member of the Madison County Conservative Women’s Coalition.

“He has programs he works on daily and he would be unable to go to his day program and continue his progress,” Eddy said. “It’s really important for him that he have continuity in programming in order to maintain his functioning level.”

Eddy, who came to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner speak Wednesday in East Alton, said she thinks the first-term governor is the person to fix the state’s budget issues.

“I think it’s important we continue the momentum and get our Republican candidates elected,” Eddy said.

As part of a two-day campaign-funded tour of the state, Rauner stopped Wednesday at East Alton’s High Flyers Grille.

Rauner, who was elected in 2014, put $50 million into his re-election campaign fund last year.

Rauner’s tour Tuesday had him making visits to Bloomingdale, Rockford, Rock Island and Peoria. He was also scheduled to visit Marion and Champaign on Wednesday.

“It’s really focused on getting the message out,” Rauner said. “This is not an election campaign; this is not about my re-election. What we’re doing is communicating with the people of Illinois, and we do it through political events, through government communication events, through social media, earned media, paid media.”

Rauner repeated his pitch that Illinois needs to grow its economy faster than government spending in order to maintain a balanced budget.

“We have to come together, Democrats and Republicans, (and) push the General Assembly to compromise to get a balanced budget, but most importantly (we need to) change the structure of Illinois so we’re pro-growth, pro-job creation and get rising family incomes, and we could get a higher quality life with a lot more jobs,” Rauner said during a press gaggle.

During his remarks to the assembled crowd, Rauner called for adopting a balanced budget, term limits for elected officials, redistricting reform, and a property freeze. He also repeated his opposition to an income tax increase.

“If we send these rascals more money, they’re going to spend even more and we’re going to be in deficit again within a year,” Rauner said. “It’s not going to solve the problem.”

Rauner also took aim at longtime established politicians in the government and said the state has been in decline because of Democratic control.

“I’m demanding a balanced budget. (While) we’re arguing about the budget, we’re really arguing about the future of Illinois,” Rauner said. “Are we going to stay under the thumb of these career politicians who are controlling the government for their own benefit, or are we going to go in a new direction?”

The tour took place as several Democrats have thrown their names into the hat for their party’s nomination to run for governor. The Democratic field now includes businessman Chris Kennedy, State Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston, Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, billionaire J.B. Pritzker, Madison County Regional Schools Superintendent Bob Daiber and small business owner Alex Paterakis of Vernon Hills. Also, state Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood said Monday he’s creating a campaign committee to explore a bid.

Pawar’s campaign this week was quick to pounce on the governor for campaigning as the budget impasse continues.

“Instead of working on passing a state budget that is now more than 21 months overdue, Gov. Rauner is out campaigning in an attempt to distract us from the 22,000 seniors outside of Chicago who have lost access to services, the 130,000 low-income college students who are not receiving tuition grants, the nearly 47,000 children whose parents are without affordable child care, and the 80,000 people who have lost access to mental health services in Illinois,” Pawar said in a news release.

Rauner said he is still negotiating to come up with a balanced budget even during his two-day trip.

“The General Assembly is on vacation this week and next,” Rauner said. “I’m still on the phone with them and members of the Senate. We’re still negotiating. I’ll never give up.”

A recent Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll of registered voters found 58 percent said they disapprove of Rauner. Roughly 61 percent of respondents said they disapprove of Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan. The same poll conducted in October showed Madigan’s disapproval rating at 63 percent and Rauner’s at 55 percent.

Doug Jameson, the chairman of the St. Clair County Republican Central Committee, attended the event and said he wants Rauner to continue his message of working to bring jobs back to Illinois, lowering taxes and creating a more efficient state government.

“I want him to continue on that campaign because it’s a winning message,” Jameson said.

Jameson said it is important for Rauner to reiterate his message to his supporters as others campaign for the Democratic nomination.

“The governor has every opportunity to come out to say what he stands for (and) to speak to his base, because the roadblock to the governor’s progress and that of the citizens of Illinois, are the Democrats in the state legislature led by Mike Madigan out of Chicago,” Jameson said.