Supporting the reigning Rauner
March 9, 2015
Before I say anything, I would like to say that I am a Democrat. I have very liberal opinions on social issues and fairly liberal economic views. However, when I got my first chance to vote last November, I found myself voting for Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor, over Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.
In the past few weeks, Rauner has been taking a lot of heat for his proposed 2016 fiscal budget. Rauner has suggested massive cuts across the board, and many University students have been up in arms over his outlined 31.5 percent decrease in higher education funding.
In contrast, I’m still team-Rauner for a variety of reasons.
His proposed cuts would cause a $209 million loss to the University , and while I agree that this cut is extreme, I am not too worried, yet.
With a Democratic majority in both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Senate, Rauner probably knows this budget isn’t getting passed the first go-around. Chances are, that’s why the slash is so extreme. The idea is simple: Propose a 31.5 percent decrease in funding, so that a smaller decrease won’t be as intimidating. It’s a basic principle in compromise. Politicians use an extreme to make their real goal seem more sensible and middle-grounded, meaning that our cuts hopefully won’t be as drastic.
However, despite the fact that we don’t want sacrifices in the University’s budget, the state of Illinois still has a $9 billion annual deficit, meaning cuts in various programs are necessary.
Our state is drowning in debt. Even though we might not like how close to home these cuts are, this just means that Rauner is taking the necessary steps to start rebuilding our economy. He doesn’t stop there, either.
One large deficit we face is our $111 billion in pension debt. In his budget proposal, Rauner is suggesting restructuring the pension plan for state employees, excluding firefighters and police officers. His proposed format would save the state $2.2 billion in the first year alone, while still covering employees’ pensions and leaving them with necessary benefits.
This plan would help decrease our pension deficit and make great steps toward restoring our pension system.
Rauner already seems to be taking more long-term steps to help stabilize Illinois’ economy than Quinn did during his whole stint in office.
Quinn’s answer to the budget crisis was to hike up taxes. While he promised on his campaign trail to veto any income tax over 4 percent, in 2011, Quinn passed a law raising income taxes to five percent. He also increased corporate tax from 4.8 to seven percent.
Both of Quinn’s tax increases were set to be temporary for four years. While the tax increase did help with some of the deficit, they were only momentary solutions. Rauner’s proposed budget reforms compared to Quinn’s seem like they would be one of the first long-term approaches taken in four years.
Rauner wants an overhaul of the Illinois government. Rauner’s campaign platform rested mainly on budget, pension and education reforms. He currently seems to be three-for-three with his attempts to keep his promises to the voters: He promised to cut spending, he promised to put more money into K-12 education and he promised to deal with our pension mess.
Usually when Republicans enter office, we Democrats might feel we have to sacrifice some of our social ideals about topics like gay marriage or abortion rights, which can be a major reason not to vote for those candidates. Electing a Republican candidate in Illinois may have caused some worry for Democrats since this is a state which legalized gay marriage, and some may have had fear this would be repealed.
However, Rauner has said numerous times that he was the candidate with “no social agenda.” Now, he’s the governor with no social agenda, which Democrats can find comfort in.
He is attempting to follow through with his campaign promises, even as early as in his first two months as governor.
The way I see it, Rauner is keeping his word from his campaign, so I’m going to keep mine. By casting my vote, I feel as though I promised to support Rauner as he tries to accomplish what I put him in office to do, and I am doing just that.
Great slashes have to be made to make up for our grave debt. Hopefully, when our budgetary crisis is over, a Democrat can come back into office and build back up our social programs. For now, we need to be focused on fixing our state’s budget deficit and this Republican seems to be the best man for the job.
Sam is a sophomore in Media.