On his way out of office, Gov. Bruce Rauner is offering a few pointers to the Illinois Republican Party. He also touts what he views as the main achievements of his administration.
Rauner said Republicans need to be a big-tent party — welcoming members who don’t always agree on all the issues. That’s a departure from former Representative Jeannie Ives, who says Rauner should have stuck with party principles. Ives nearly defeated Rauner in the primary elections, building a following with a more conservative base.
Rauner said Republicans will not win in Illinois unless they are moderate on many issues—but he warns success does not stop there. “If you’re going to be a moderate to win elections, but you’re not going to be a reformer and fix the problems, what’s the point of winning?”
Rauner criticized past Republican officeholders for over-regulating and giving too much power to labor unions. He says they were basically “weak subsidiaries” of the Democrats.
Rauner is set to give the General Assembly a report with his administration’s achievements. Among those, he said, is his work on unions.
The Republican spent most of his term pushing to end so-called fair share fees paid by public sector employees who don’t want to join unions. Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in JANUS v AFSCMEnon-union members won't have to pay those fees.
Rauner said that is high on his list of accomplishments. “Restoring free speech in organizations, in governments—state and local, and in schools, and removing forced unionism, forced dues collections, is a massive game changer,” he said.
Unions, however, say it lets people benefit from union-negotiated wages without paying for the service.
During his tenure, Rauner took part in heated stand-offs with unions—most notably the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Those fights were behind many of the difficulties he had in reaching agreements with Democrats in the General Assembly.