Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner visits Marion to cheers and protests

It’s not a battle over the budget, but over changing Illinois’ course. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner brought that message to the crowd in Marion Wednesday afternoon, saying people there deserve action instead of more stopgap fixes.

Inside Aisin Manufacturing, Rauner said businesses like Aisin are thriving in Illinois, but more must be done to help other businesses enter the state, stay there, and grow.

"For decades, we’ve been flat. We haven’t created any net new jobs in Illinois for 17 years, and in the meantime — in those 17 years — our government spending has gone up 66 percent," Rauner said. Reforms must be made to stop jobs from leaving the state, Rauner said. They need change, starting with the budget.

"We’ve got to get a balanced budget, and I do applaud the senators. You know, the Senate Democrats and Republicans are negotiating right now on term limits. They’re negotiating on a property tax freeze and pension reforms," the governor said.

House lawmakers recently passed a stopgap budget plan that would release millions of dollars to help universities and social services survive the budget stalemate that’s now inching closer toward the two-year mark. But Rauner said that’s not the solution he’s looking for.

"We could help them for a couple months but we shouldn’t be helping them for a couple months. Let’s help SIU grow and be a world class university for the long term," Rauner said. He said if they can do that, it’ll create a better Illinois for the people here now and for years to come.

But not everyone in town shares the governor’s vision.

Protesters rallied nearby during the governor’s visit. They say by refusing to compromise with Democrats on a budget he’s not representing the people of Illinois. Protesters said he’s crippled the state’s universities, schools and social services, and they’ve had enough. They say if he won’t pass a budget, it’s time voters found someone who will.

"It’s pretty unreasonable, in my opinion, for Governor Rauner to have the gall to get out like this and expect people to support him when he’s been so incompetent that he has been unable to pass any kind of budget the entire time he’s been in office. He’s a failure,” said protester Debbie Gunter.

"He’s just killing us here in southern Illinois. He’s killing the university, he’s killing social services, and the list just goes on and on. And he just needs to quit being a dictator and compromise," said protester John Gunter. He said he and the people in Marion want to see something change. He said after a year and half without a budget, they feel they deserve it.

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