A side-by-side rundown of where the candidates in the Illinois governor’s race stand on our key challenges. Taxes? Schools? Jobs? Trust? Pensions? Spending? Term limits? Gerrymandering? Who stands with you? Check out the Reboot Illinois one-stop, digital election scorecard for all the answers. Who wins your vote? Our scorecard will help you decide. Award-winning journalists Matt Dietrich & Madeleine Doubek offer up the cheat sheet to break down the issues for you.
View The Issues
Illinois Governor’s Race
1. What are they going to do to our taxes?
I was elected in 2010 to be straight with the people of Illinois and to be straight with you.
The truth is, those who are telling you that Illinois can tax less and spend less and still expect to fund education are simply not telling you the truth.
The truth is, Illinois is spending less – billions less – even as demands have grown.
The truth is, our structural budget reforms that we fought for in the past five years are critical to recovery. But alone they are not enough. We cannot cut our way to prosperity.
After signing a temporary income tax increase into law in 2011, Quinn now is pushing lawmakers to make the 5 percent rate permanent. Quinn says if the tax hike expires and falls back to 3.75 percent in 2015, major funding cuts for schools, roads and bridges, social services and public safety will have to follow.
He also proposed but failed to win approval in 2014 for a $500 property tax refund every year for homeowners.
Proposed but did not get a doubling of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), as well as tax cuts for businesses that provide job training.
I think we’ll work out the specific rate with the General Assembly like we’re going to work out the entire budget with the General Assembly. My personal goal, (the) 3.75 (personal rate) I think is good, but we need to work out the overall plan and how we transition.
What we need to do is make major structural change over time so we become a growth state again. That’s the critical thing. And here’s what my commitment is. We need to roll the (personal) income tax rate back from 5 percent back to 3 percent where it started within a four-year period and I think 3.75 is a good place to step to next.’’
Rauner proposes to reduce Illinois income tax rates over a four- year term to 3 percent for individuals and 4.8% for businesses — the levels of both taxes before the 2011 tax increase raised them to 5 and 7 percent, respectively. They are scheduled to drop to 3.75 percent and 5.25 percent on Jan. 1.
But before the primary, Rauner indicated he would veto any extension of the income tax increase.
Rauner also said he would begin to impose taxes on an array of 32 business services, including lawyers’ services and computer programmers.
2. What about spending?
We slashed wasteful spending. We re-negotiated numerous contracts with our state vendors. … We also did the hard things to drive down the cost of operating state government. We closed and consolidated more than 50 state facilities. We overhauled our Medicaid program, rooting out waste, fraud and abuse.’’
Has cut state spending by $5.7 billion since taking office.
Closed several prisons and state facilities.
In an 18-month span from spring 2012 to late 2013, Quinn oversaw two of the biggest spending cuts in recent history for Illinois government: a $2.7 billion Medicaid reduction package and a controversial pension reform bill past in December 2013.
Still, the state’s discretionary spending has grown during his tenure, with expenditures expected to grow another 7.4 percent ($2.4 billion) in the current fiscal year.
State spending has never been higher, or less productive. Our economy continues to suffer, and far too many Illinoisans remain out of work. Our state is in a long-term death spiral. High and rising taxes. Massive deficits and debt. Huge unpaid bills … This is not some fictional horror movie. It is happening all around us.’’
Rauner would call on lawmakers to forfeit their pensions; halt plans for the South Suburban Suburban airport; stop flying prairie chickens to Illinois from out of state, though that program is funded by user fees; cut 10 percent from constitutional offices and general assembly; merge comptroller and treasurer offices; streamline main government adminstrative bureau and find more Medicaid savings.
3. What's their approach to pension changes?
I respect the retirement security of all our public servants and I think it’s important that we understand the action of the General Assembly today in a bipartisan way will make our state stronger and will make the people stronger. (Press conference following passage of pension reform bill, December 2013.)’’
Quinn tried to cancel lawmaker paychecks when they did not send him a pension bill by July 9, 2013. He said in 2012 he was “put on this earth” to solve the pension crisis, but the legislature has criticized him for not being part of the process. Unveiled Squeezy the Pension Python in 2012 to illustrate the problem. Helped push reform bill through General Assembly he signed into law in December 2013.
Springfield politicians … voted to slap a small bandage on an open wound. While it may help them temporarily feel better, it does little to fix the real problems facing Illinois. The pension system remains broken and badly underfunded.’’
Opposed pension bill currently under court challenge.
Wants to “cap the current system and move towards a defined contribution system” and eliminate the ability of government employees to receive large pay raises before they retire in order to increase their pension.
4. What about improving our schools?
Our state actually leads the nation in the number of three year olds attending pre-school. But the status quo is not enough. Not even close. The reality is, more than a third of our youngest and most vulnerable children don’t have the opportunity to attend early learning programs before they enter kindergarten. And that’s unacceptable.’’
Maintained state education funding of education at same level for FY 2013 and 2014. Has cited pension debt as squeezing education. Signed 2011 education reforms into law.
Proposed a Birth to Five Initiative, including statewide pre-k for all students in 2014 State of the State address:
1. Identify expectant mothers and connect them to prenatal services
2. Provide every child with access to quality early learning opportunities
3. Ensure parents have the services they need. Family involvement during preschool is linked to stronger performance
I’m a passionate advocate and ally for teachers. Always have been, always will be.’’
1.Wants to “re-prioritize” education spending so more money goes to the classroom, not the educational bureaucracy; hold bad teachers accountable.
2. Wants to let educators have the autonomy to run their own schools and let families choose schools that best fit their children’s needs.
3. Outstanding teachers deserve higher pay based on their merit. Failing teachers must be held accountable and not given a lifetime guarantee in the classroom
5. What about business?
We’re going to be helping employers in Illinois, workers in Illinois, all of those who are committed to economic growth.’’
It’s going to take a strategic assessment of the overall tax policy to find out ways we can be more pro-job creation, while still raising enough money for the disadvantaged.’’
Wants to create Right-to-Work zones, allowing local communities to decide whether workers must join a union to get a job.
Supports tort reform and limiting lawsuit abuse.
Supports more workers’ compensation changes.
6. What about jobs?
Illinois’ comeback is going strong, and we’ve got more work to do.’’
Illinois should be home to a vibrant workforce with a booming economy but thanks to Pat Quinn we are still leading the Midwest in job losses.’’
Rauner says he would turn the state’s Deparment of Commerce and Economic Opportunity into a public-private partnership.
He would lower business registration fees.
He would travel to promote Illinois as a home for business and expand the state’s export market.
He would improve vocational and technology training.
He would reform workers’ compensation laws further.
7. What about the minimum wage?
Our businesses are only as good as the employees who drive their success. Nobody in Illinois should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty. That’s a principle as old as the Bible.’’
Tie the Illinois minimum wage to the national wage and, in that context, with other changes in being pro-business, I support raising the national minimum wage.’’
Despite early claims he would lower Illinois’ minimum wage by $1 to match neighboring states, Rauner now says he would support an increase in minimum wage coupled with business reforms. Rauner has said he considers $10 a “reasonable.” minimum wage.
8. Whom should you trust?
We restored integrity to state government, passing a strong new ethics code, campaign finance reform and a new constitutional amendment to allow voters to recall any governor guilty of corruption.
We have taken the program’s mismanagement and oversight shortcomings extremely seriously. We have zero tolerance for mismanagement, fraud or abuse.’’
Convened special corruption panel upon taking office in January 2009; signed campaign contribution limits and enhanced Freedom of Information Act into law.
Five of Quinn’s appointees are under federal investigation for handling of $55 million Neighborhood Recovery program launched before the 2010 election that the state’s auditor general criticized for lack of spending accountability.
Also being sued by government watchdog Michael Shakman who accuses Quinn’s transportation department of engaging in political patronage hiring.
If this sort of bribery occurred in private business, people would go to jail. In Illinois government, it’s standard practice.
Let the people of Illinois decide for themselves if they want to term limit legislators. … Nearly 600,000 Illinoisans signed the petition to put our amendment … The people deserve to have their voices heard.
This is an investment in a small business that specializes in making micro loans to African American businesses. That’s a great way to make an investment and to help try to improve the quality of life in these communities that are really under served.
Wants to increase efficiency and transparency in government, make government spending more accountable.
Has pushed for a term limits question on the November ballot, that also would change the number of legislators and give the governor more power.
Has been accused by Quinn and Secretary of State Jesse White of “pay to play” politics for trying to buy votes, particularly with a pledge to invest $1 million in South Side Community Federal Credit Union.
9. Are they for term limits?
In 1994, I led a petition drive to collect almost half a million signatures to put term limits on the ballot. I believe this reform would improve Illinois government.’’
Favors term limits, but he has said he doesn’t support Rauner’s version of term limits because of the change it would make to the size of the House.
We believe our Term Limits and Reform amendment is not only constitutional but is exactly what the framers of the 1970 Illinois Constitution intended when they provided for a direct initiative by the voters to make structural and procedural changes to the Legislature. The Legislature will never vote to term limit themselves because of their self-interest in maintaining the status quo in Springfield – it has to be the people.’’
Wants term limits imposed on members of the legislature – started Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits.
That specific ballot question also asks if voters want to change the size of the Legislature and make it tougher for lawmakers to override a governor’s vetoes.
10. What about gerrymandering?
I support any reforms that improve competition and openness. It is important that districts be drawn in a way that protects participation by minorities.’’
Favors more competition and transparency along with protecting minority representation.
Yes. I think we need impartial, computer-generated maps.’’
Rauner is in favor of redistricting reform.
11. Where are they on guns?
I believe in gun safety, and I’m going to always speak out about that. I don’t think people should have their lives and property harmed by people with loaded concealed weapons who don’t, under the law, deserve to have them.’’
Quinn has pushed the passage of the Illinois Public Safety Act, which would ban assault weapons, establish a limit on high-capacity ammunition and expand background checks for prospective gun buyers. He is a staunch gun-control advocate and was against the passage of the concealed carry law earlier this year.