Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican who is vying for a second term in November, appeared on WBEZ’s Morning Shift today. He sat down with host Jenn White, and took questions from callers. You can listen to audio of the entire interview here, and we’ve highlighted seven takeaways from his nearly 30-minute interview.
1. Rauner said the U.S. Senate should delay a vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court until sexual assault allegations against him from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford are investigated.
“Dr. Ford’s allegations are very serious and they seem very credible. I believe they deserve to be investigated. And I believe a vote should be postponed until they are fully investigated.” Rauner said.
Rauner’s comments come as other Republican governors around the country called for the Senate to delay a vote.
2. Rauner says he has a lot of unfinished business, and wants just one more term.
“No more than one. I believe in term limits no matter what,” the governor said.
3. A private equity firm Rauner co-founded has a financial stake in Sterigenics, a global company with facilities in southwest suburban Willowbrook that’s come under intense scrutiny for emitting a gas that can cause cancer.
Rauner said his previous financial ties haven’t influenced the way he’s handling the issue.
“We have immediately gotten our Illinois EPA and our Department of Public Health on this issue as soon as we were notified by the federal government of concerns,” Rauner said. “We have an investigation underway of all facilities. There are 75 facilities in the state of Illinois that use ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment. There are four primary factories that use it, including this company Sterigenics.
“All of them are now being monitored. All of them are being investigated. And there is a measurement of the stack emissions that I ordered that’s been underway now for several weeks. We are public safety No. 1 priority. We will get the truth about what has been emitted so far and what needs to change in the future.”
4. How do you keep millennials in Illinois? Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. And stripping away lots of layers of government, Rauner said.
“We bring down the cost of government by shrinking that government bureaucracy, bringing down the property tax burden, and growing more good-paying jobs, and millennials will flock to the state of Illinois just as all people will. And job creators will as well,” he said.
5. A union worker called in and asked Rauner how he’d raise wages in a state where public employees no longer had to pay dues to unions that represent them in collective bargaining.
“We are losing out because we are not attracting manufacturers because thousands won’t come to a forced union state,” Rauner said. “And all I’ve said is let’s not make Illinois a right to work state. … How about Harvey, how about Maywood or Blue Island or Decatur or Rockford? Why couldn’t those be areas where you can join a union if you want to but you’re not forced to? We could bring hundreds of manufacturing companies to Illinois if we would allow that flexibility.”
6. Rauner has criticized his gubernatorial challenger, J.B. Pritzker, over the Democrat’s graduated income tax plan. So what’s Rauner’s solution?
“I want to gradually reduce the income tax just like other states have done,” Rauner said. “Flatten it and reduce it. I also want to bring down the property tax by empowering local citizens to use the referendum process to lower their tax burden and control the costs of local government.”
The state income tax is 4.95 percent. So what would be the low end of your proposed income tax rate?
Three percent, the governor said.
7. Ongoing WBEZ reporting has shed light on accusations that Rauner’s administration was negligent in its handling of multiple Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at a state veterans home in downstate Quincy. The deaths of 14 residents have been tied to Legionnaires’ disease. Does Rauner believe the state acted negligently during the outbreaks?
“The state acted swiftly and accurately and did exactly what they should do,” Rauner said. “If someone concludes otherwise, I would strongly disagree with him. All the evidence that we have found, all the work we’ve done indicates that our teams there at the Quincy veterans home and the experts we brought in did exactly what they should have done when they should have done it.”