WSIU InFocus: Governor Bruce Rauner (8/26/2016)
Governor Bruce Rauner says there are still serious issues facing the state, and he hopes a compromise can be reached so that Illinois can move forward soon.
In an interview with WSIU's Jennifer Fuller, Rauner reacted to a decision by the state's Teachers Retirement System to reassess the rate of return on pension investments. That reassessment means the state will have to pay $400 million more into the fund this year, and Rauner calls that devastating.
"This has massive impact on our budget. $400 million - we've already got a huge deficit. That could impact our school funding, that could impact our human services even more, that could impact our economy. Now more businesses that would like to grow in Illinois will look at that and say, 'Gosh, there's another burden on the taxpayers in the future. Maybe we shouldn't invest in Illinois.'"
Rauner says he's disappointed TRS didn't look at other options, as well.
"I was frustrated to hear over the past week that they were just going forward with this. They weren't going to take their time and debate it over a few sessions. They just quickly passed this, and it has a massive impact, so I'm very worried about it."
In response to a decision this week booting a proposed constitutional amendment off the November ballot, Rauner says the people of Illinois want to take political gamesmanship out of the process of drawing legislative district boundaries.
Our system in Illinois is rigged to protect incumbents and lock in the parties as they are. That's not right.
"Democracy doesn't work without choices and without competition, and democracy is based on a two-party system. Well, our system in Illinois is rigged to protect incumbents and lock in the parties as they are. That's not right. That's not the way democracy can work."
Rauner says he hopes voters will demand their elected officials take up the matter this fall. The legislature could pass its own redistricting reform.
Governor Rauner also used his time at the DuQuoin State Fair to highlight a new foundation that will help maintain the grounds and other infrastructure.
Critics of the foundation model say it lacks transparency, and that the people of Illinois won't know where money is coming from. But Rauner says states like Missouri and Indiana already use this model, and it works.
"To me, it's about political games, and frankly, the folks in power wanting to have control over those things themselves. Other states do it, this is not that hard."
Rauner says the DuQuoin State Fair, and its larger counterpart in Springfield, showcase Illinois agriculture - and that's something that can't be diminished.