Bruce Rauner is not a name commonly spoken on this campus; in fact, I would say that it would be a safe bet to assume that most students, even those that are Illinois residents, do not know who he is, let alone what he stands for. What many students do know, especially those that are from the Midwest, is the fact that Illinois has a terrible history of hiring some of the most corrupt politicians in the nation (I believe the grand total was four former governors in prison at the same time), and yet constituents continue to elect members of the same party. Why’s that, you may ask? The answer is Chicago politics.
If you haven’t already figured it out, Bruce Rauner is the current Republican candidate for Illinois governor, and the election is in approximately one month. The word “Republican” is a bit of a gamble on this campus (you would think it carries the black plague), but I encourage anyone who plans on voting in this coming election to know what he or she is or is not voting for. Though it may sound strange, Rauner is running on a strictly fiscal and economic campaign and, as a libertarian, I am personally excited for what he could bring to Illinois.
For those that may not know, income taxes have risen 67 percent under Governor Pat Quinn (who is currently running for reelection) and Attorney General Lisa Madigan (who is also running for reelection against Republican Paul Schimpf– I’ve met the man– very nice). This is very strange, considering that states with income tax rates of zero percent do significantly better economically than those with the highest rates (Florida, Washington, Nevada, etc…). As someone from a middle-class family and a part of Illinois that is poorly represented in its own government, this sounds like a dream come true. If citizens of Illinois have more money in their pockets to feed the economy with, Illinois will certainly go places it hasn’t gone for decades.
But Rauner is not strictly running on lowering income and corporate taxes– he is also running on education, employment and government spending platforms. A little-known fact about Illinois is that it has the highest unemployment rate in the Midwest and one of the highest in the entire nation. How can one man fix this? Definitely not with a stimulus package, but by using the resources that Illinois already possesses. Rauner’s plan is to make the job market a more even playing field by reforming the worker’s compensation policies and turning unionizing into a choice, making Illinois a happier and easier place to find a job and keep it.
Firsthand, I can say that a problem in Illinois is how difficult it really is to start a small business anymore. These sorts of reformations could kickstart the economy in a way that would make Illinois more competitive with neighboring Midwestern states. The big issue that particularly hits home for me is education. My junior year of high school, my hometown school district had to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff as well as programming, and this was not the local taxpayers’ doing, but it was certainly at our expense.
The state of Illinois owed the district over a million dollars; in my opinion, that is out of control and irresponsible on Quinn’s part. Rauner’s education reform platforms, as well as his government spending ideas, are certainly the answer to Illinois’ problems. Illinois needs real change.