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Bernard Schoenburg

STATEHOUSE SPOTLIGHT: A little help from his friends

New Rauner ad spotlights rival states' governors

New Rauner ad spotlights rival states' governors

Gov. Bruce Rauner's new campaign ad – featuring the Republican governors of Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri – seems a far cry from the competitive message he pushed just before a 2-year budget impasse got underway.

Now Rauner seems to be giving those governors a paid platform on Illinois media to indicate what better places they provide for business.

The new ad has Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Eric Greitens of Missouri all thanking Rauner's Democratic nemesis – Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago – for helping their states, as they see it, by hurting Illinois.

The nicely produced video of those three smiling governors has them speaking on the same theme – they want to thank Madigan, as Walker puts it, "for raising Illinois taxes," and as Greitens puts it, "for blocking Rauner's reforms."

"We're growing union jobs faster than Illinois," Holcomb says, adding, "Hoosiers love you, Mike Madigan."

"Cheeseheads love you, Madigan," says Walker.

Words appear onscreen at the end: "Stop Mike Madigan," followed by Rauner's name with the slogan: "Because Illinois is worth fighting for."

Rauner, of course, has been governor for more than 2 1/2 years, and 2 years of that time involved a budget impasse that ended this summer – but the state still has nearly $16 billion in unpaid bills.

That impasse also ended only because several Republican lawmakers – worried about breaking social services or continuing to damage universities and having the state go to junk-bond status – voted with majority Democrats to raise the income tax to 4.95 percent on individuals.

The rate had been 3.75 percent since it was rolled back in January 2015, about the time Rauner took office, from its original level of 5 percent.

Top legislative Republicans had said Rauner agreed to the 4.95 percent level in an earlier plan this year, though the budget finally passed came through an override of Rauner's vetoes.

Anyway, Rauner has often talked about competing with other states, like he did at the Chicago Tribune editorial board in April 2015.

"Believe me, I am going to rip – try to rip the economic guts out of Indiana," Rauner said. "I am one of the baddest, you know, enemies anybody can have. And when I set a goal, we do it. I don't care what the headline is. I want the results. And we're coming after Indiana big time."

Rauner also said at the time a line that has become somewhat famous – even leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker's campaign to put out daily emails titled "Crisis Creatin' Rauner."

"Crisis creates opportunity," Rauner told the Tribune. "Crisis creates leverage to change ... and we've got to use that leverage of the crisis to force structural change."

Rauner had also told the Rockford Chamber of Commerce in February 2016, according to WREX, that "if we had our act together, Indiana would be a cornfield. ... We should be kicking their tails."

And The Prairie Press reported that in Marshall in February 2015, Rauner said, "We have the best location in the country, the best workers and the best farms. We should be kicking Indiana's tail."

Now that Illinois is in competition with many other states to land a second headquarters for Amazon, does it make sense for Rauner to let other governors talk down Illinois to its own voters and beyond? Just asking.

It does, said Justin Giorgio, a spokesman for the Rauner campaign.

"With entrenched Democrats like Mike Madigan at the helm, Governor Rauner has vowed to pull out all the stops to make change in Illinois," Giorgio said. "That includes having three successful governors help make his point that Illinois has to change and we need to get rid of Mike Madigan in order to grow."

Madigan issued a statement Tuesday saying the "balanced budget is a bipartisan compromise between Republicans and Democrats who worked together to move beyond the governor's political games and end his 732-day budget crisis. ...

"The governor's ad highlights his own failure to lead, and fully embraces the race to the bottom being led by his role models from states where middle-class wages are a fraction of what they are in Illinois. It's deeply disappointing that Governor Rauner would rather work with right-wing governors from other states than with legislators seeking bipartisan compromise right here in Illinois."

Rauner's administration and the state GOP say the budget is $1.5 billion or more out of balance.

"Madigan has done it again, deceiving voters with the erroneous claim that the budget he muscled through the Legislature is 'balanced,' said Aaron DeGroot of the state GOP. "In reality, the budget still has a $1.7 billion deficit, despite his massive 32 percent tax hike. Madigan's unwillingness to reform state spending has led to the massive tax increases and budget deficit the state now faces."

STATEHOUSE SPOTLIGHT: A little help from his friends OPINION: Bernard Schoenburg: New Rauner ad spotlights rival states' governorsshaw-push-component-1

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