So, now we have a race for governor. In one corner, we have Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Quinn is a true career politician that has held many statewide offices or ran for just about every office in Illinois for the past 30 years. In the other corner, we have Republican candidate and businessman Bruce Rauner. For the past 30 years, he grew to run a very successful company and grew from perhaps an upper middle class upbringing to that of a very wealthy man with nine homes! Oh my! One is NOT a self-made man. The other is a self-made man.
Currently, Illinois is one of two states that actually LOST jobs in 2013. In other words, more people were working at the start of 2013 than by the end of 2013. Hence, the state has the second highest unemployment rate in the country. Illinois has the WORST credit rating of any state in the country. In fact, its credit rating is down there with many Third World countries. Illinois had the third worst foreclosure rate in 2013. That is actually worse than in 2012 when the state had the fifth worst foreclosure rate. Illinois is behind by about $8 billion in paying its bills; basically where it was BEFORE the largest the tax increase in state history was passed in the weeeeeeee hours of the morning on Jan. 11, 2011 – right before the old, more Democratic legislature was to end and a new, more Republican one was to be sworn in.
Despite a questionable pension deal passed last year, Illinois is short roughly $150 billion in its pension obligations to state workers. When you combine all the various debts for the state, it is somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 billion. More than 100 of the state’s school systems are basically in the red, even though Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the nation (only behind New Jersey) and if present trajectories continue, it will have the highest property taxes in about three to five years. Despite all the money going into the schools, test scores statewide are plummeting. Oh, and Illinois leads the nation now in state flight – meaning the number of people fleeing the state. Since 2002, the Democrats pretty much have had complete control of the state government. For all but two years, Democrats have controlled the Illinois legislature since the early 1980s. Do you see a trend here? Does any of this register and compute?
If not, I’ll be pithy: Illinois is on the brink of absolute destruction. While a state cannot declare bankruptcy, the situation in Illinois is just that: on the verge of becoming North Korea (one of the world’s poorest nations).
Yes, downtown Chicago is all nice and pretty. There are many beautiful and rich suburbs. A cute, little Abraham Lincoln doll is used as a tourism ploy. On the outside, things don’t look half bad in this state. But peel away that outer layer and you will find nothing but cancerous growth.
So, what is Quinn going to do to win re-election? He will play the class warfare card. Bruce Rauner is a rich man. He is a multi-millionaire many times over. He owns nine homes! Oh my! He is out of touch with the common man. Oh no! Pat Quinn is not a rich man. He does not own nine homes. He is in touch with the common man. Oh, really?
Bruce Rauner grew up in typical middle class – or perhaps on the higher end of the middle class – household. Like many (including myself) he worked his way through college. Unlike most, he parlayed his education and business acumen to become one of the 1 percenters. He is successful. The Democrats apparently hate success. They will decry a man who is successful, who successfully used his education to his advantage, who has grown businesses and made most of them successful (and, yes, a few of those companies did not work out), who has attained the American Dream. Somehow success is a bad thing?
So, in the 2013 and 2009-2010 hockey seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks enjoyed success and won the Stanley Cup? That success was bad, not a good thing? In 2005, the Chicago White Sox did something no Chicago baseball team had done since 1917: it won a World Series. That success was a bad thing, not a good thing? The Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships in the 1990s. That success was a bad thing, not a good thing? In 1986, the Chicago Bears won the SuperBowl. That success was a bad thing, not a good thing? I mean, that basically is what the Democrats are saying, isn’t it? Success is bad, not good.
Rauner did not grow up in privilege. He did not grow up rich like the Kennedys or even the Romneys (though the reality is Mitt Romney made his fortune, not handed down from daddy).
Let’s look at it this way: if you were successful and made a fortune, what would do with that money? Or better yet, if you are one of the countless millions that buys a lottery ticket when it reaches $300 million or $400 million, what do you dream of doing with those winnings? Do you dream of having a home in Hawaii? One in the mountains of Colorado? A chalet on the French Riviera? Travel the world? Yes, we all dream of that. We also dream of using some of that money for good: donating to the needy, helping family and friends with their bills, giving money to our church.
Well, Bruce Rauner uses his money for the good as well. He and his wife are quite philanthropic. They have given millions to the development of charter schools, especially building those charter schools where they are really needed: in the poorest of Chicago neighborhoods. Rauner has spent millions of dollars so those that might not get the chance otherwise can get a good education and have a chance at a better life. Unlike Mitt Romney, I hope Bruce Rauner talks a lot about that on the campaign trail. I hope he has the Rev. James Meeks (and former Democratic state senator) on the campaign trail with him as much as possible. Meeks is a staunch school choice supporter.
For the past 30 years, Pat Quinn has played a significant role in the destruction of Illinois. He may be a nice man and in many ways a well-meaning man, but the reality is that his policies and ideas have helped put Illinois in the dire straits it’s in. For the past 30 years, Bruce Rauner has worked to build things, to improve things, to make life better. He is a nice and a well-meaning man too.
In the end, we have two nice, well-meaning men running to be governor of Illinois. But one has brought destruction to Illinois, inside politics that helped make a select few wealthy (House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton are millionaires, after all, and much of that money has come from being party power players), and in reality push policies and laws that harmed businesses in Illinois and the people of Illinois.
The other has put in millions of his own money into the development of charter schools, created and built businesses, and given thousands upon thousands of people good jobs. One doesn’t know how to create jobs; the other has a lifetime of creating jobs.
The Democrats will play the class warfare card. They will try to make Bruce Rauner look like an evil, rich man. They will tell you he has no idea what life is like for you. However, if you spend just 15 minutes with Rauner (and I have) you will find that while he is a multi-millionaire he really is not much different than you and I. He does know what it’s like to pay bills, go to work, buy a car, raise children, deal with everyday real-life issues.
Rauner also knows how to lead, how to grow a company (and a state is much like a business), how to create jobs, how to make life better for people. Aren’t we looking for leaders who can help make our lives better? Isn’t it time Illinois elected a leader who can change things for the better?
Illinois needs to pay its bills on time (to real companies and charity organizations that actually do things for people and employ people). We need to reform the government. We need for the government to stop taking more of our hard-earned dollars and at a faster rate that our incomes grow. We need for the government to help create an environment that entices business, not chases them away. The more businesses there are in Illinois, the more jobs there will be for people. The better off Illinois – and you – will be. Common sense, folks.