Gov. Pat Quinn has had more than five years to guide Illinois toward a brighter fiscal future.
Instead, his incompetent leadership and regressive policies have driven the state to the brink of financial collapse.
To that point:
Illinois is bleeding jobs. State data released last month show there are 102,000 fewer Illinoisans in the workforce now than when Quinn, a Democrat, took office in 2009. That’s good for worst in the country. Illinois also is the only state in the Midwest where food stamp enrollment has outpaced job creation – by a 2-to-1 margin – since the Great Recession, again under Quinn’s watch.
Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state in the nation, meaning it pays more in interest when borrowing money. Under Quinn, national ratings agencies have downgraded the state’s credit rating 13 times. The state’s bonds are near “junk” status.
Illinois also has a worst-in-the-nation public pension deficit of $100 billion and growing. Almost a quarter of every dollar state government collects annually from taxpayers goes toward retirement benefits, not services. Quinn stood on the sidelines as lawmakers worked on pension reform last year, offering no solution of his own to the state’s most pressing issue. The solution ultimately arrived at now appears likely to be thrown out in court, putting reform efforts back to square one.
Deadbeat state government owes social service agencies, school districts and other employers almost $5 billion for work completed months ago. Illinois’ worker’s compensation costs are fourth worst in the U.S., driving businesses and jobs elsewhere.
Quinn and Democratic state lawmakers also foisted a 67 percent income tax increase on wage earners in 2011, costing a household with annual income of $50,000 an additional $1,000 in taxes. Quinn promised it would be temporary, but now wants to make it permanent. He also wants to introduce a graduated income tax, another jobs killer.
Simply put, Quinn’s tenure as governor has been a complete failure.
By contrast, Republican nominee for governor Bruce Rauner is a success story. A self-made millionaire, he helped build a startup investment firm into one of the most successful businesses in the state.
Rauner’s wealth was not given to him. He earned it. Yet Quinn, a lifelong politician, holds that against him. Success should be lauded, not vilified.
Because he is independently wealthy, Rauner will not be beholden to the special interests that have helped corrupt Springfield. He said he will stand up to public employee union leaders who have fought tooth-and-nail against reform. He said he also will fight corruption and cronyism, which have thrived under Quinn in state government agencies such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture.
Rauner understands that the state’s taxpayers are overburdened. He wants to phase out the Quinn income tax hike over four years, freeze property taxes, and shrink state government. He also wants to reduce the overall number of governmental bodies in Illinois.
Rauner pledges to be an active governor and live in Springfield. Unlike Quinn, Rauner says he will be on the floor working legislation every day the General Assembly is in session.
Rauner also is not a career politician; this is his first run for office. He supports term limits and, if elected, said he would serve at most two terms.
Rauner admits he does not have all the answers. He understands Illinois’ financial situation is so dire, he will need help. He vows to surround himself with talented people whose focus will be righting the state’s fiscal ship, not political cronies looking for more taxpayer-funded handouts.
Rauner doesn’t need this job. He said he’s running because he believes in Illinois and wants to make it a better place to live. Bruce Rauner gives Illinois hope.
Gov. Pat Quinn offers more of the same failures.
Illinois can’t afford more of the same. That’s why we endorse Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor.