I’m fighting for you.
I began my career when I founded the Coalition for Political Honesty to prevent Illinois legislators from collecting their entire two years’ pay on their first day in office. And I helped create the Citizens Utility Board, which has saved consumers more than $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and winning refunds.
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Taking on the establishment prepared me to take on some pretty big challenges as Governor.
When I took over, Illinois was a mess: two corrupt governors in a row; the worst recession since the Great Depression; and decades of financial mismanagement.
Repairing that kind of damage doesn’t happen overnight, but we’ve been rebuilding Illinois one hard step at a time.
We passed a strong new ethics code, campaign finance reform and a new constitutional amendment to give voters the power of recall with respect to the Governor’s Office.
We balanced the budget responsibly by cutting more than $5 billion in state spending, securing revenue and overhauling our Medicaid program to save taxpayers billions of dollars, all while preserving the safety net to protect the most vulnerable.
We passed an historic pension reform law and enacted comprehensive pension reform that Moody’s said “may be the largest reform package implemented” by any state in the nation.
These tough decisions haven’t always made me the most popular governor – but our state is in better shape.
Illinois is making a comeback. Our state’s unemployment rate is currently at its lowest point in more than six years – more people are working today than in the first month of my administration. The backlog of bills is going down, and we are heading in the right direction.
But there’s much more work to do.
That’s why I laid out a comprehensive plan for economic growth that will do three things: create more jobs, better schools and an economy that works for everyone.
Jobs are my top priority. We have dramatically improved the state’s economy by taking steps such as enacting worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance reforms to save hundreds of millions of dollars. We’ve launched the largest construction program in Illinois history to rebuild our roads, schools and bridges, which put thousands of people back to work. As a result, Illinois’ business climate and economy continues to improve. In the past year alone we’ve created more than 40,800 jobs — and our unemployment rate has fallen faster than any other state over the past six months.
To advance that growth, my plan will cut fees for small businesses to drive innovation while providing targeted tax cuts for businesses that provide job training. Ensuring that Illinois has a 21st century transportation infrastructure — in addition to a 21st century workforce — is essential to compete in the global economy.
Second, the best economic tool a state can have is great schools. That’s why I worked to pass and signed into law landmark education reform in 2011 that is a model for the nation. I’ve increased education funding by more than $2 billion dollars and have protected the classroom from radical cuts sought by Republicans. In order to take us to the next level, I plan to make the largest investment in the classroom in Illinois history— including doubling scholarships for students in need, and making a bold investment in early childhood education. My Birth to Five Initiative will increase access to prenatal care, early learning opportunities and parent support — a game-changer for our economy.
Finally, we need to strengthen the middle class.
That’s why I fought to ban discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace and fought for marriage equality, to make Illinois a state that welcomes everyone and provide equal rights to all couples. It’s also why I’ve fought to provide more community living options for people with disabilities.
And it’s why a key part of my plan is raising the minimum wage, which is good for workers and good for the economy. Illinois is stronger when everyone gets a fair shake.
My plan is specific, concrete and responsible — it builds on the tough steps we’ve taken and it will advance our economic recovery.
In contrast, my opponent has proposed a plan that would cut taxes for billionaires like him by $1 million dollars a year while slashing funding for public schools and creating a whole new tax on services that have never been taxed before, like garbage collection. This shifts the tax burden to the middle class and would hit small businesses the hardest.
Mr. Rauner’s plan is irresponsible, and it doesn’t add up. It would lead to one out of six teachers being laid off and would force cuts to classroom programs. It would require local governments to raise property taxes just to keep the doors open. Mr. Rauner says he wants excellent schools, but the truth is — you can’t have excellent schools without properly funding them.
My opponent says he wants to run Illinois like a business — but he ran many of his businesses into the ground. At least 12 of them went bankrupt, while Mr. Rauner made millions. Whether he was outsourcing jobs to foreign lands or cutting care at his nursing homes, Mr. Rauner made his fortune off the misfortune of others.
And worse yet, his ill-gotten gains are informing his policies, which would take Illinois in the wrong direction. Over the past year, Mr. Rauner has been caught on tape admitting he wanted to eliminate the minimum wage and that he would have vetoed legislation — legislation I signed and worked with President Obama to enact — that has provided 468,000 people with health insurance they didn’t have before.
This brings us to the choice you face in this election.
I will never put profits above people.
And I will never cut school funding to give a tax break to the wealthy.
We’ve made real progress these last five years, but there’s more work to do.
And on Nov. 4, I hope you’ll allow me the opportunity to finish the job.