MOLINE -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner wants to reduce the power of government unions, push a pro-business agenda and prioritize education funding.
Mr. Rauner is the former chairman of GTCR, a major Chicago-based private equity firm and a political neophyte who has poured $3.25 million of his own money into his campaign to become the state's next governor.
He's running in the Republican primary for governor against state treasurer Dan Rutherford and state senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard.
Mr. Rauner, who lives in Winnetka, spoke Monday with the editorial board of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. During the interview, he said his wealth would allow him to remain "independent" of the "special interests" such as union leaders that he said have too much power in Springfield.
He also is campaigning to introduce merit-based pay for teachers and wants term limits to be introduced for lawmakers in Illinois. Spending on education should be the state's top priority, he said.
Mr. Rauner said he'd use his experience as a businessman in the world of venture capital to restructure the state's government, parts of which he described as a "cesspool of patronage."
Among his proposals are to push state workers into a defined contribution pension plan similar to the 401ks common in the private sector.
He said he has spent time learning from other Republican governors like Mitch Daniels in Indiana, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Chris Christie in New Jersey. If elected, he plans to implement some of their ideas into Illinois government, and generally looks to cut spending and outsource state services where possible.
Illinois is "hostile to business," Mr. Rauner said. To change that, he promised to cut taxes, loosen regulations and make the state's workers' compensation program less costly to businesses.
"We're just full of red tape, fees, restrictions, hassle, bureaucracy," he said. "We just make running, starting and operating a business a pain in the rear."
Mr. Rauner is well-ahead of his rivals in the Republican primary race, according to a poll taken this month by the Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV. The primary election is March 18.
Gov. Pat Quinn is running for re-election and is expected to beat Chicago activist Tio Hardiman in the Democratic primary.
Today is Tuesday, Sept 2, the 245th day of 2014. There are 120 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: It is estimated that 300,000 people attended the recent Democratic convention in Chicago when Gen. George B. McClellan of New Jersey was nominated as a candidate for president of the United States. 1889 — 125 years ago: Alderman Frank Ill, Winslow Howard and Captain J.M. Montgomery returned from Milwaukee, where they attended the national Grand Army of the Republic encampment. 1914 — 100 years ago: Three members of the Rock Island YMCA accepted positions as physical directors of other associations. Albert Cook went to Kewanee, C.D. Curtis to Canton and Willis Woods to Leavenworth, Kan. 1939 — 75 years ago: Former President Herbert Hoover appealed for national support of President F.D. Roosevelt and Congress in every effort to keep the United States out of war. 1964 — 50 years ago: The Rock Island Junior chamber pf Commerce has received answers to about 65 % of the 600 questionnaires mailed out recently in a "Community Attitude Survey" to analyze sentiments of citizens towards their city's various recreational, educational, and civic service programs. 1989 — 25 years ago: The two thunderstorms passing through the Quad Cities last night and early today left some area residents reaching for their flashlights.