The race for the GOP nomination for governor is likely to be a contentious one. Wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner, Sen. Kirk Dillard, Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Sen. Bill Brady will face off in the Illinois General Primary Election March 18. Here are some of the main issues touted in their campaigns and why you should know them.
The Issue: Charter schools
Here’s Why: It’s no surprise that education reform is at the top of the agendas for Illinoisans running for public office. Amidst school closings around Chicago, publicly funded private charter schools have become a point of controversy as their effectiveness has yet to be proven. Rauner has made his support for charter schools a centerpiece of his campaign, while the other candidates have all expressed support in some form or another.
The Issue: Corporate tax breaks
Here’s Why: In recent years, corporate tax breaks have become a big issue in Illinois as the state struggles to retain large companies that bring in lots of jobs. Corporate tax breaks for those companies are incentives for them to stay, but opponents cry injustice for the everyday taxpayer and small business. All four GOP candidates are focused on job creation and making Illinois a more competitive state for business, but their views on corporate tax breaks are not yet clear.
The Issue: Minimum wage
Here’s Why: Concerning minimum wage, the four GOP candidates stand in staunch opposition to Gov. Quinn, who made raising the minimum wage the principle issue of his own campaign. The current minimum wage is $8.25 per hour, a full dollar above the national rate. Rauner has previously advocated for lowering the Illinois rate to match the national minimum wage, but all four candidates currently support keeping it the same.
The Issue: Pensions
Here’s Why: Pension reform has been a hallmark of Gov. Quinn’s time in office. The controversial bill he signed last year was the climax of the crisis. The four GOP candidates held varying views on the bill. Rauner doesn’t believe the measures go far enough. Rutherford and Dillard have questioned its constitutionality. And Brady expressed that it was the best that could be done under the circumstances.
The Issue: Progressive taxation
Here’s Why: The temporary 5 percent income tax hike is set to expire in 2015, making taxation a big issue in the governor’s race. The question isn’t just whether the current tax rate should be renewed, but also whether Illinois should make the bigger change of converting to a progressive tax system. Gov. Quinn has said he would support this change, but all four GOP candidates stand behind the current flat-rate system, which they say makes Illinois a more business-friendly state.
The Issue: Term limits
Here’s Why: Illinois is one of 30 states without constitutional term limits for its legislators. But there has been a lot of talk surrounding whether to change that, possibly limiting terms to eight years. Rauner has been one of the biggest proponents for term limits and has made it one of the main features of his campaign. The other GOP candidates support term limits as well. Gov. Quinn, however, seems less decided about the issue.
The Issue: Campaign finance
Here’s Why: In 2009, Gov. Quinn enacted a bill that calls for more campaign finance transparency and places stricter limits on campaign contributions. This has become an issue with Rauner, who caused a minor scandal when he used the third-party firm Paylocity to pay his employees, making it unclear who was getting paid and how much. Billionaire Rauner leads the GOP campaign financial race by a long shot, while the other three contenders have struggled to stay in the race.
The Issue: Abortion
Here’s Why: The four GOP candidates run the gamut on views of abortion. Rauner takes the most liberal stance saying he supports the woman’s right to choose, but abortion should be very rare. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Brady, who has previously advocated for a complete ban on abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Although they describe themselves as pro-life, Dillard and Rutherford are somewhere in the middle.