Gov. Bruce Rauner, (R-Ill.), on the state’s mounting pension crisis.
We Have A Huge Debt Problem In Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner
I've got a totally different story for you. It's serious stuff Illinois. It's got a huge I mean huge pension problem. About 130 billion dollars worth of unfunded pension benefits. That's money that got to pay out in the future. They don't know the money. Joining us now is the governor of Illinois Bruce Rouda. Welcome to the program. And the first question What can you do about this. Yes it's Stuart good morning. Good to be with you. We have a huge debt problem in Illinois. It's actually worse than you said. We have almost 200 billion dollars of debt. Pensions and other forms of debt. There are three solutions to our challenge. Number one we need significant pension reform and we've put that forward in our legislature. Number two we need to shrink the cost of our government bureaucracy. We have some of the most expensive largest government bureaucracies of any state in America. And number three we need to make our economy more competitive grow faster grow more good paying jobs and grow our way out of our debt challenges. Well those three responses to your debt challenge but you have to get them through a Democrat legislature. I know you're laughing. But odds are you're not going to get much done all year. Well you know we had a super majority against me when I ran for governor I became governor in three and a half years ago. We were able to pick up six seats in the General Assembly in Springfield in 2016.
Even though President Trump lost Illinois by almost 17 points and I'm committed to picking up nine seats in the General Assembly this election cycle. If we do that our corrupt political boss Michael Madigan who's been in the legislature since 1971 we get him gone and we'll make big changes now. Do you have to pay these pensions. I mean is it the Constitution of the state of Illinois. The Constitution of the United States of America. Those pension payments are sacrosanct. So you gonna pay them. That means you got to cut existing government services or existing government workers so you can pay your retirees. That's the situation you are in at the moment. Correct. Well that's pretty accurate. We do have that obligation. It's a moral obligation in my opinion as well as a financial obligation. But there are constitutional changes we can make to our pension system that are fair to everyone and I put forth a plan that would save us about two billion dollars a year in pension reform. So that would be a material budget savings and help us balance our budget and get to a funding the patch that's number one. Number two we have some of the most expensive government bureaucracy in America in Illinois more than 7000 units of local government. I sued daffs me my first month in office three and a half years ago to change the way they force government employees to pay union dues. But the Supreme Court here in Washington right now. If we win our case that I started we will transform the way government is structured and compensated and help our employees and our taxpayers. That's that's that's the case that's between before the Supreme Court right now.
The Jana's case. That's right. We always start to pay union dues. That's right I started that it was router versus asked me when I sued them and I signed an executive order on that three and half years ago. They kicked me out of the case after six months because I'm not an howsomever. I don't get paid. I have a volunteer who are going to prevail in that case so we can transform the balance of power between tax payers and government workers all over the country. Governor I don't want to pile on the bad news is all the negatives but you do face an exodus of say wealthier better paid people out of Illinois because of the new tax law. That's exactly right. We are overtaxed overtaxed. Oh you know what. What we can do is pick up a few seats in the General Assembly we all need a few and we can make our economy more competitive. If we reduce the regulatory burden on our businesses with our workforce with our location with our transportation network we can become one of the fastest growing states in America and we'll grow our way out of our problems. I'd like to end it on a positive. You just did Gov. Bruce Rella thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it. Thanks Stuart.