Gov. Bruce Rauner wrapped up a two-day media blitz highlighting the need for a state budget and education funding on Thursday, while also putting the spotlight on three vulnerable Democratic legislators targeted for defeat next November during his statewide tour.
July 1 marks a year without a state budget as the deadlock between Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, continues.
For the past two days, Rauner stepped up his attacks against Madigan and his Democratic allies during visits at state-run facilities — prisons and mental health centers — and at stops involving educators from schools dependent on cash from Springfield.
In a related move, the House Republican Organization – the GOP state House political operation – over the past two days increased its push to defeat eight of its top Democratic targets.
At present, Democrats hold a supermajority in both chambers in the Illinois General Assembly, and Rauner and his allies are intensifying efforts to shave the Democratic ranks.
On Thursday, Rauner stopped at the Eaglewood Resort in northwest suburban Itasca – the district represented by state Sen. Thomas Cullerton, D-Villa Park, considered by Rauner’s team to be the most at-risk in November.
Also on Thursday, the governor visited the East Moline Correctional Center, represented by State Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, seen in some GOP quarters also as a top tier race.
On Wednesday, Rauner visited the Vienna Correctional Center —a major source of employment for that Downstate community, which is represented by State. Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, who is also a top Senate GOP target. Rauner was joined by Harrisburg Mayor Dale Fowler, the Republican who is running against Forby.
Rauner continued to try to drive a wedge between Chicago and other communities when it comes to funding schools as he pushed his own stand-along proposal for elementary and high schools — a plan state Democrats have rejected.
“It’s a crucial juncture, “ Rauner said in Itasca speaking at a conference of school administratorsrepresenting large Illinois school districts serving pre-K through 12th grade.
“The elected officials in the General Assembly who are in the super majority, one of their leaders, the president said publicly he wants to hold up school funding this year.Not have schools open in August unless the funding formula is dramatically changed and Chicago gets dramatically more money, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s not fair to taxpayers in Itasca, or Rockford, or Wilmette, or Maywood, or Blue Island, or Danville or Decatur.”
Meanwhile the House Republican Organization is increasing its drive against House Democrats that could be easiest to defeat. On Wednesday, the organization launched an online campaign against state representatives Dan Beiser, D-Alton; John Bradley, D-Marion; Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg; Smiddy; Andy Skoog, D-Spring Valley; Kate Cloonen, D-Kankakee; Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg; and Sam Yingling, D-Hainseville.