Candidates in Their Own Words: Bruce RaunerAs part of WJBD's commitment to the local community, WJBD News is presenting a series of informative stories on the positions of each candidate for governor on the ballot for the 2014 primary election, scheduled for March 18th. These stories are presented as objectively as possible, and as such we will attempt to use the candidates own words as much as possible.
Businessman and Venture Capitalist Bruce Rauner is the current chairman of R8 Capital Partners and a retired founder of the private equity firm Golder, Thoma, Cressey, and Rauner, or GTCR. Both firms are based in Chicago and focus on the purchasing and restructuring of companies in high-growth industries in order to make them more profitable.
Rauner has spent more than 30 years in business, which he believes gives him an edge his competition does not have.
Rauner says a complete overhaul of several Illinois laws and statues is required for the state to make any meaningful progress on job and economic growth.
"We can't be pro-jobs if we aren't pro-business, and we are hostile to business in this state. Our tax burden is too height, or workman's comp system is broken, our unemployment insurance costs are too high, our tort system, our legal system, and our insurance system is too expensive and hostile to business. There are probably about ten things we need to change to become pro business, but it boils down to reducing the tax burden, and the regulatory burden on business" Rauner said during an exclusive in-person interview with WJBD in January.
Rauner supports fracking, calling it a potential "economic boom" that needs to be capitalized on.
On the closure of the Murray Developmental Center, Rauner says it's important for Illinois to manage it's assets carefully and create long term plans for every state facility.
"Illinois is just an atrociously run state. We just do not run things well, and that includes an assessment of our assets. That center is an asset of the state. We should do an assessment, not of just that facility, but every facility around the state, and think of it strategically: What is the best way to optimize the economic impact and benefit to our citizens from that facility?" said Rauner.
Rauner says that even if the Murray Center were to close, the facility could easily be used for another purpose, or management could be taken over by a private-public partnership.
Rauner opposes Senate Bill 1, the Pension Reform Bill of 2013. He believes that pension reform would best be accomplished by transitioning the system to a 401K based system similar to that used by private industry to fund employee retirement.
Rauner's campaign promise is to "Shake up Springfield" and he says he's the political outsider the state needs, criticizing his opponents as Springfield insiders incapable of solving the state's problems.
"The folks I'm running against have been in Springfield for decades, and we're the worst run state in America. Where have they been leaders? Where have they solved problems?" asked Rauner, "And, they're in the pension system! Have you seen what lawmakers get for pensions? If they were leaders, they would have put themselves into a 401k years ago! And, they all take government union money which is a conflict of interest with the voters! Come on!"
Rauner's opponents, however, call him as a shady businessman who has used lobbyists to obtain government contracts and have accused him of voting and supporting democratic candidates in the past. Kirk Dillard has famously linked Rauner to the inner-circle of Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, whom Rauner considers a friend. Rauner's campaign finances have also come under fire, as he outpaces other candidates by several million dollars, $4 million of which has come from his own pockets.
His running mate is Evelyn Sanguinetti, a City Councilwoman in the Chicago Suburb of Wheaton.
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