Dems vow continued fight against ‘the extreme Rauner agenda’

SHARE Dems vow continued fight against ‘the extreme Rauner agenda’
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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is the subject of a new movie by conservative critics. | Tina Sfondeles / Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD — A day after Gov. Bruce Rauner and top state Republicans lambasted a political “machine” that has broken the state, Illinois’ top Democrats and union leaders on Thursday vowed their fight against the governor will wage on even after the November elections.

Democrats hosted their annual Democrat Day breakfast with messages of appreciation for President Barack Obama, hope for a Hillary Clinton presidency, and many jabs at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Rauner.

The state’s Democratic chair, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, spent his address vowing to continue to fight against Rauner’s reforms. He also called Rauner’s decision to pass a stopgap budget in July “an admission” that his agenda “had failed.”

“I’m very pleased today, very pleased to tell you that the Democrats in the Legislature have stood against this extreme Rauner agenda,” Madigan said to cheers. “Very pleased to tell you that the Democrats in the Legislature will continue to stand against the extreme Rauner agenda.”

Madigan said the Democratic party has some common goals: to “come together in opposition of the extremism” of Trump and Rauner. He called the “extreme” agenda the lowering of wages, the lowering of the standard of living of the middle class and sending injured workers to hospitals or to welfare.

Rauner has attempted to make changes to workers’ compensation laws and collective bargaining rights to try to attract more businesses to Illinois. But Rauner’s agenda items were put on pause during a lengthy budget impasse that resulted in a stopgap budget to fund the rest of the year. Full budget talks are to continue after the November elections.

Others also attacked the governor’s proposed reforms: “To the Trump and Rauner agenda, we as Democrats say no,” Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs said.

“Not on our watch, no,” Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan added.

Campaign buttons featuring Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, as a young lawmaker are handed out during Governors Day at the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. | Seth Perlman/AP

Campaign buttons featuring Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, as a young lawmaker are handed out during Governors Day at the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. | Seth Perlman/AP

Term limits was a key message at Wednesday’s Republican Day, where Madigan, the longtime speaker, was featured on a “Term Limits Now!” pin. Sen. Dick Durbin, whose name is being thrown around as a potential Rauner challenger, was featured as a “career politician since 1983” and “Mike Madigan’s first choice for governor” on pins being handed to reporters and others outside the State Fair on Thursday.

There were also attempts to link Trump to Rauner, something state Democrats have done for months.

Rauner, who has spoken out against Trump’s rhetoric and skipped out on the Republican National Convention, didn’t mention the GOP presidential nominee in his Governor’s Day speeches on Wednesday.

That’s something Durbin highlighted in his breakfast address.

“We’re going to actually do something Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to do. We’re actually going to say the name of our presidential nominee out loud,” Durbin said.

On Wednesday, Rauner and the top state Republicans spoke of an unprecedented election cycle with heaps of cash — much of it from Rauner — to fund Republican races. They talked of their hopes of beating the “machine.”

“We are going to stand against that machine and we are going to beat that machine,” Rauner said to cheers, saying the machine is behind job losses, lower family incomes and the highest property taxes in America.

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