Quinn, Rauner address issues in black community, criticize policies

Paige Leskin, City Editor

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois and his challenger in the upcoming election, Bruce Rauner, argued Tuesday about each other’s stances on issues related to black Illinois residents, including unemployment, gun safety and education reform.

In their second televised debate, held to focus on matters important to the black community, Quinn and Rauner spent much of the hour-long meeting criticizing the other’s work while touting his own plans to improve public schools and invest in job development.

“I care about public education, quality schools, and I’ll bring about a transformation in the Springfield government that works for African American families and all families,” Rauner said. “Pat Quinn has taken the African American vote for granted. He’s talking but not delivering results. We have got to go in a different direction.”

A panel of local journalists directed questions toward the candidates, who are vying for the nod from Illinois voters in the gubernatorial election on Nov. 4.

Panelist Jay Levine, chief correspondent at CBS 2 Chicago, asked about Rauner’s charge that Quinn intends to extend a 66 percent state income tax increase that is set to expire at the beginning of 2015. Quinn responded that although he did not plan to raise the tax, additional revenue was needed to put money toward the state’s education.

“I believe using the income tax, which is based on ability to pay, is the best way to go,” Quinn said. “I think we should use income tax revenue to properly fund our schools. The best way for good jobs in the future and today is to make sure we have well-educated workers.”

Quinn said although he plans to increase the budget for public schooling, Rauner wants to cut the budget by $4 million, which would hurt early education and lay off one out of six teachers in Illinois.

In return, Rauner said Quinn has slashed early childhood education investment. Rauner and his wife have donated to schools to create scholarships, train teachers and encourage college education, he said.

Both voiced their support for raising the minimum wage yet accused each other of opposing it in practice.

Democrats have had control of the Senate and the House for Quinn’s six years in office, yet he has failed to produce a law raising the minimum wage, Rauner said. If Quinn was really committed to it, he would’ve passed it already, Rauner added.

Quinn countered that he wants to increase the minimum wage to at least $10, which can be done with a public referendum on the ballot. The increased minimum wage would give low-income residents enough money to sustain themselves and send their children to school, he said.

“We’re all in this together. My motto is, ‘everybody in, nobody left out,’ especially when it comes to education,” Quinn said. “There’s only one person running for governor who favors raising the minimum wage. And that’s me.”

Addressing the violence in the Chicago area, Quinn said he was committed to working with police to ensure justice is brought, as well as confronting gun safety through signing new laws that deal with lost and stolen firearms.

Rauner said the key to reducing violence lies in improving education from the start.

“The real answer to deal with our crime problem is to create opportunity,” Rauner said. “It’s the lack of opportunity that causes crime. It’s low income, it’s the lack of jobs, it’s lousy schools that don’t really provide an education for the jobs that are available.”

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