CHICAGO – Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner said Thursday he would work to reduce taxes and regulatory burdens on farmers and would travel the globe on his own dime to promote Illinois products if elected.
The Winnetka businessman, who is trying to unseat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, stopped at a farm in the central Illinois community of Lincoln. He also introduced a coalition of supporters from the agriculture industry that's backing his campaign.
"As governor, I will be a champion for Illinois agriculture," Rauner said in an emailed statement.
But Quinn's campaign criticized a four-page "vision for agriculture" Rauner also released Thursday, saying it lacked substance.
"The farmers of Illinois know a pig in a poke when they see one," spokeswoman Izabela Miltko said.
Miltko noted that under Quinn the state has been a national leader in soybean and corn production and agriculture exports. She also said Rauner's plan to roll back the state's income tax rate would have a "devastating impact" on rural education.
Rauner has denied that claim, and said Thursday his administration would fund agricultural education options from elementary through college levels. He also said Quinn's plan to make the state's 2011 income tax increase permanent will hurt farmers, just as it would other businesses.
Even the upcoming Illinois State Fair – a showcase for the agriculture community – became fodder for the debate.
Rauner pointed to recent reports that part of the roof at the fairground's grandstand is falling apart, requiring costly emergency repairs. He said it was a sign that government "bureaucracy" wasn't properly investing in the facility.
The comments came the same day that fair officials who are part of Quinn's administration boasted about several improvements at the facility. Those projects were funded through a capital construction program Quinn signed into law shortly after he took office.