Rauner visits Rock Island on two-day statewide tour
Gov. Bruce Rauner visited the Quad Cities during his two-day tour promoting reform and a balanced budget, speaking at Rock Island’s Performance Food Group.
"This isn't about today's budget, this isn't about yesterday's budget, this isn't about, you know, some little deal,” said Rauner, according to a report from WVIK. “This is about whether we are going to be on the track of prosperity with outstanding economic opportunity for everybody and a great education system for everybody so our children have a better future in Illinois. That's what this is about."
Rauner’s Rock Island speech, and his tour as a whole, focused on reform efforts that he believes will make the state more competitive with businesses and stimulate economic growth. Encompassed by his Turnaround Agenda, these measures include freezing property taxes, imposing term limits on state politicians, reforming election map development and local government consolidation. Rauner also discussed the efforts he has taken to make Illinois operate more efficiently and reduce wasteful spending.
While Rauner is pushing for the General Assembly to come up with a budget agreement, he is advocating an agreement that closes the state’s current $6 billion deficit without increasing taxes.
"I'm the one person who's pushing back against that [raising taxes] because that would be a huge failure," said Rauner according to a report from the Quad City Times. "We need to stay persistent. That's why I'm here."
With the General Assembly’s Democratic majority pushing for a budget that does not cut services and fully funds pensions, any budget compromise is likely to feature increased revenue. Rauner said he is not opposed to cooperating with the Democrats, but only if adequate reform is put in place through the eventual budget agreement as well.
"I'm an anti-tax guy, but if the general assembly won't allow me to make all the cuts to balance the budget, I could go along with some of their tax increase ideas if we had pro-growth reforms to help businesses, and if we bring down our property taxes through a freeze and more local control," said Rauner, according to segment on WHBF.
Rauner also demonstrated a willingness to increase spending in areas that would benefit the state long-term. When asked if he would support state funding to bring Amtrak to the Quad Cities, he said it was a possibility.
"We're going to have a big capital bill with part of a balanced budget,” said Rauner, according to OurQuadCities.com. “I am a strong advocate for a very large, long-term major capital bill with major investment; roads, rails, locks, dams, canals. Our airport system. I want to see us very strongly investing in our transportation.”
Rauner has garnered some criticism for his tour, which opponents have categorized as an unofficial campaign event. While Rauner has not yet announced a bid for re-election, he has been running spots promoting reforms in his Turnaround Agenda and now has toured the state with a similar theme. He strongly objected to that classification when asked about it at the Rock Island stop.
"This is not about an election announcement or an election campaign,” said Rauner, according to OurQuadCities.com. “I do occasional political trips or political events, Lincoln day dinners and others. This is a political trip. It's not paid by taxpayers."
Throughout the Quad Cities stop, Rauner emphasized the need to spur economic growth to allow Illinois to tap its full potential.
"We have the hardest working people in America," said Rauner according to WVIK. "We have the best location of any state in America. We have the best transportation network of any state in America. We have the best agriculture of any state in America. We should be kicking tails."
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