A presentation prepared by a highly paid budget consultant hired by Gov. Bruce Rauner features two slides of a bear high-fiving a man. Another questions subsidies for the Illinois State Fair.
The internal PowerPoint prepared by Donna Arduin — who was hired on a $120,000 contract, then extended at $15,000-a-month for three more months last year — is being called “clownish” and “bizarre” by one of the state’s largest healthcare unions, after the union fought for the document’s release.
SEIU Healthcare Illinois on Friday released the documents after a Freedom of Information Act battle with Rauner’s administration. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office released the documents earlier this week.
One slide features a cartoon from the San Diego Union-Tribune of a man telling two children on the couch “Government can give people free stuff forever and ever” over the caption: “Greek mythology.” Another two illustrations contrast “budget balance,” in which taxes and spending appear equal, with another graphic called “true balance,” in which “cost to private sector” and “value to Illinois” are equal.
One slide labeled “Good Intentions, but Problematic Policy” states “Why isn’t the State Fair self-sustaining?” and “How Could Museums and Parks Function Without Subsidies?”
Another slide features former President Ronald Reagan and a quote: “Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.” Another quote in the presentation: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
Rauner’s administration on Friday defended the PowerPoint.
“Please post this in its entirety because having read it over, all I see here is an engaging and educational briefing for younger staff on how to always be focused on good policy outcomes and cost efficiency when developing a budget proposal. The media obsession with Donna Arduin borders on the surreal,” Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said in a statement.
The administration contends that amid the budget stalemate, Rauner hasn’t moved to shut down the Illinois State Fair or the state museum. Rauner is also backing a bill that would allow the museum to improve revenue by charging an admission fee and increase fundraising efforts through the Illinois State Museum Society. The governor also supports the creation of a foundation that would allow people and businesses to donate to the fair to help pay for its cost.
In a statement, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Greg Kelley called the presentation a “right-wing motivational seminar.”
“While cutting child care for working families, Bruce Rauner was wasting taxpayer dollars to create a right-wing motivational seminar that is more interested in Ronald Reagan than the people of Illinois. It is no wonder that he fought for months to keep this embarrassment from the public,” Kelley said in a statement. “In the midst of a budget crisis he created, Bruce Rauner should explain why scarce public money was spent on this thing.”
Greg Will of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana requested the documents on Aug. 31, 2015 from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. Will requested “various records concerning services provided by “Arduin Associates Inc [.], Arduin, Laffer & Moore or Donna Arduin.”
According to Madigan’s opinion, Rauner’s administration withheld a “power point deck in which budget policy is described.” Madigan’s office received Will’s request to review the denial on Sept. 16, 2015.
“Based upon our review, the PowerPoint presentation reflects general considerations for budget making and conceptual principles concerning the role of government, as well as directives about how to apply those principles and to communicate with the involved parties,” Madigan’s office wrote in the opinion.
The governor’s office told Madigan’s office the presentation was presented to budget analysts as training material on preparing for their role in the fiscal year 2016 budget development.
Arduin was among Rauner’s “superstar” recruits, who the governor said would right the state’s financial ship. Previously, she helped prepare budgets for Republican governors in New York, California, Florida and Michigan. That included working for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.