Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner brought his re-election campaign to the McDonough County Republican headquarters, where he said he wants to make more state funding available for higher education.
Rauner told the crowd of a few dozen people that Illinois is his home and he wants a better future for all of the state's children. He said that K-12 education is now being funded properly. The state has implemented a new funding formula designed to make state funding more equitable among school districts.
Rauner said the next step is to get more resources for higher education.
“I want world class state universities and community colleges. That means more money for Western and all our universities and community colleges," Rauner said. “That’s what I am going to do in my second term so we can have great education from cradle to career along with a competitive growing economy.”
After his speech, Tri States Public Radio asked Governor Rauner specifically about Western Illinois University’s financial state.
During his State of the University Address, President Jack Thomas said Western ran a $4 million dollar deficit last year and will be deficit spending again this year, though he declined to say by how much. Thomas also warned that more cuts are coming.
When asked what the state could do, Rauner replied, “I want to significantly increase state support for higher ed especially the well-run institutions like Western. It is a very well-run school. It’s definitely our budget plan to put more resources into our universities.”
Tri States Public Radio asked, “One of those cuts is to Tri States Public Radio, the NPR affiliate that serves this rural region. What are your thoughts on losing a news source for this rural region?”
“Well we hate to see that happen,” Rauner said. “Hopefully, we can get the resources so that doesn’t have to happen.”
Rauner told TSPR it’s up to Western to decide what is funded, but he wants to get the university significantly more resources. Rauner did not elaborate on how he plans to get more state support for the university.
During his stump speech, Rauner also called for term limits for lawmakers and he called for legislative redistricting. He said taxes aren’t the answer, arguing against a graduated income tax by stating that instead legislators have to address why government spending is growing at a faster rate than the economy.
He said this November will be the biggest election of his life. Rauner is running for a second term. He is being challenged by Democrat J.B. Pritkzer.
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