MOLINE -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner wants to reduce the power of government unions, push a pro-business agenda and prioritize education funding.
Mr. Rauner is the former chairman of GTCR, a major Chicago-based private equity firm and a political neophyte who has poured $3.25 million of his own money into his campaign to become the state's next governor.
He's running in the Republican primary for governor against state treasurer Dan Rutherford and state senators Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard.
Mr. Rauner, who lives in Winnetka, spoke Monday with the editorial board of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. During the interview, he said his wealth would allow him to remain "independent" of the "special interests" such as union leaders that he said have too much power in Springfield.
He also is campaigning to introduce merit-based pay for teachers and wants term limits to be introduced for lawmakers in Illinois. Spending on education should be the state's top priority, he said.
Mr. Rauner said he'd use his experience as a businessman in the world of venture capital to restructure the state's government, parts of which he described as a "cesspool of patronage."
Among his proposals are to push state workers into a defined contribution pension plan similar to the 401ks common in the private sector.
He said he has spent time learning from other Republican governors like Mitch Daniels in Indiana, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Chris Christie in New Jersey. If elected, he plans to implement some of their ideas into Illinois government, and generally looks to cut spending and outsource state services where possible.
Illinois is "hostile to business," Mr. Rauner said. To change that, he promised to cut taxes, loosen regulations and make the state's workers' compensation program less costly to businesses.
"We're just full of red tape, fees, restrictions, hassle, bureaucracy," he said. "We just make running, starting and operating a business a pain in the rear."
Mr. Rauner is well-ahead of his rivals in the Republican primary race, according to a poll taken this month by the Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV. The primary election is March 18.
Gov. Pat Quinn is running for re-election and is expected to beat Chicago activist Tio Hardiman in the Democratic primary.
Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.