While speaking in Troy, Gov. Bruce Rauner said he would support allowing Fairmount Park to have additional revenue sources such as video gaming.
The horse racing track has said it may have to reduce its live racing days in 2018 from 41 to 19 if the state government doesn’t allow it to have another revenue stream.
“Our horse industry overall, horse racing, horse breeding, horse training, I think it’s an important part of our economy … I believe it’s a good business,” Rauner said. “We’ve been losing our horse industry to Indiana and other states. It’s tragic. I believe we should support our racing industry, our race tracks, and our horse breeding training and help them grow. If expansion for other revenue sources could help us do that, that would be great.”
Rauner said he believes allowing gambling in a community is a local decision.
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“First of all I believe in local control. I personally am not a big fan of gaming. I don’t gamble, I know it has negatives, but gaming is here, a lot of people like to gamble, and I believe in local control,” Rauner said. “If a community wants to have it, I believe they should be able to have it. I’m open, I’m flexible to supporting expansion of gaming, if local communities would like to have it.”
Rauner made the comments during a stop at E.J. Equipment as part of his re-election campaign kickoff tour.
He spoke about a lot of his familiar themes during his first term as governor, calling for a property tax freeze, getting relief from state mandates, term limits, limiting government, reducing red tape and regulation on businesses, rolling back the recent income tax hike, which he tied directly to Speaker Mike Madigan, and calling for a balanced budget by making the state more pro-growth and pro-business.
Rauner said the state’s ongoing budget deficit is the reason for unfunded pensions and unpaid bills.
“We’re still running a deficit even after the tax hike that I vetoed when it passed in June,” Rauner said. “This is a failure of fiscal discipline under Speaker Madigan in his control.”
Rauner said the idea of a graduated income tax, which has been pushed by Democratic gubernatorial candidates, would not work in the state.
“Every state that has gone to a graduated income tax, the middle class ends up getting socked,” Rauner said. “Working families, middle income levels get higher taxes as a result. It’s terrible.”
Rauner did tout the education funding agreement, which included tax credits for private school scholarships, and was signed in August.
“We have record school funding. I’m proud of that. I ran for governor because I want to have the best school system in America, vocational training and technical training,” Rauner said. “Before I became governor, school funding had been cut four times in the prior 10 years, and we were the worst state government for funding schools. I said no more of that.”
Steve Brown, spokesman for Speaker Madigan, said Rauner’s accomplishments have been things that Madigan has supported, including the school funding reform, all of which have been supported by Madigan.
Brown said Madigan would support a property tax freeze and public-private partnerships.
“He wanders around (the state) with the same tired spiel,” Brown said. “What happens when he’s got to start explaining in detail why he didn’t get anything accomplished, and why when did get something accomplished is because Mike Madigan and Democrats are for it.”
Brown questioned whether Rauner would be helped if term limits were in place.
“He seriously can’t believe that Democrats, if they were going to follow speaker Madigan, would reject all the core principles of the Democratic Party,” Brown said. I don’t understand what he hopes to gain with this rhetoric.”
Rauner was joined by state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, Troy Mayor Allen Adomite, Troy City Administrator Jeff Soland, and EJ Equipment owner Ed LeSage.
“Small business is the backbone of the Illinois economy,” Rauner said. “The majority of the people of Illinois work for a small business. The success of small business is the key to the success of our state. By helping small business expand and grow, we get more good paying jobs, higher family incomes, and we expand our tax base so we get balanced budgets for the state.”