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Rauner a skeptic on suburban airport

Republican Bruce Rauner said Wednesday that he’s “skeptical” about building a South Suburban Airport and wants to see an “analysis of why putting billions of dollars into it makes sense.”

The candidate for governor made the comments while appearing on Rockford radio station WXIX’s “The Low Budget Morning” show.

“I’m pretty skeptical about it,” Rauner said. “I don’t know why politicians keep bringing it up, and I said to one guy, ‘you know people keep talking about Peotone, show me the analysis of why putting billions of dollars into that makes sense?’ I want to see the numbers. Show me the numbers, show me the analysis as to why it makes sense. Nobody has done that; nobody has been able to produce that for me.”

Earlier on the same show, Rauner said he was going to visit the Chicago-Rockford International Airport later that morning to promote job creation, transportation and investing in infrastructure in Illinois.

Obviously, Rauner has one set of priorities for Rockford and another for the south suburbs of Chicago.

“I really think if Mr. Rauner wants to find out about all the details and all the activity that has gone into this, he would do well to come out here and talk to the people who have been involved,” Will County Executive Larry Walsh said. “There have been a lot of players involved in bringing the South Suburban Airport to this point. South suburban legislators, Will County legislators, Kankakee County legislators have come together over the past four to six years in an effort to construct a South Suburban Airport.

“Does Mr. Rauner realize that there are studies showing that Will County by 2035 or 2040 will be the second-largest county in the state? We have the largest inland port in North America. Mr. Rauner talks about creating jobs, and this would create thousands of jobs, during construction and after construction, and create opportunities for small businesses.”

Walsh is a Democrat and can certainly be accused of taking a politically partisan view on the airport.

But Rauner has repeatedly said his priorities are reducing taxes and creating a climate friendly to business in Illinois.

The state’s plan for the South Suburban Airport near Peotone would not cost Illinois billions of dollars. The state would buy the land, which could cost as much as $100 millions, and then turn it over to a private developer to operate.