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Gov. Rauner Faces Protests Over Address To Quad Cities Chamber Of Commerce

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner went to the Quad Cities on Monday for the second time in a week. This time, his appearance drew protestors over effects of the state budget impasse.

Rauner's message to members of the Chamber of Commerce in Moline was largely the same: long-term structural change.  He apologized to human service providers in attendance for problems due to the budget impasse.

"But here's the key: We need to change so we can properly fund our human services for the long term, not just with stopgap spending," he said. "We also need to create more economic opportunity and more growth; otherwise we're going to need more human services. We've got more people unemployed and more people on assistance because they can't take care of themselves unless we've got a strong vibrant economy."

He also repeated key points of his agenda that critics say should be set aside in favor of passing a budget.  

"Terms limits and fair maps have a huge effect on whether we have a long-term budget or not," the governor said. "So when they say to me -- and they say this all the time -- 'Let's only talk about budget stuff; term limits have nothing to do with the budget,' it has everything to do with the long-term budget and long-term prosperity for the state of Illinois."

Rauner applauded State Senate Democrats for their willingness to compromise and blamed House Democrats for blocking any possible progress on fixing the state's finances. 

In response to the speech, around 50 protestors gathered in downtown Moline.  The group advocated for union rights, fair contracts, and education funding. Greg Johnson worked for the Illinois Department of Corrections for 32 years. 

"And I'm also a parent to a five-year-old daughter who goes to school in East Moline as a kindergartner at Hillcrest," he said, "and her school has been forced to lay off teachers because the state isn't paying the bills."

Collin West is a senior at United Township High School in East Moline; he worries about where he'll go to college next year. He wants to go to the University of Illinois but thinks tuition might be too expensive without state funding. 

"I believe it's my duty as a young millennial to be politically active," he said, "and I wouldn't have it any other way."

West says he's frustrated with Governor Rauner's attempts to pass term limits and fair-election maps when he believes the state first needs a budget.