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Rauner Takes His Turnaround Agenda To Facebook Live

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 20, 2016 8:03PM

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner at the Illinois State Fair. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner took to Facebook Tuesday to answer questions from what were allegedly real humans who definitely don’t work for his office.

In a whirlwind 26 minutes and 18 seconds, Rauner mostly rehashed some key points of his “Turnaround” agenda, along with announcing plans for the state bicentennial in 2018.

State Rep. Tim Butler “posed” the first question to Rauner, who did the broadcast from his office in Springfield wearing his many businessman costumes, giving him the opportunity to announce the Governor’s Office of the Bicentennial.

“We’re going to do a very big celebration of our 200th birthday in two years,” Rauner said. The office will be headed up by marketing executive Stuart Layne, who has worked with several media companies and sports teams. He also announced the Bicentennial Commission, a 51-member body appointed. Rauner also added that he and Diana are sprucin’ up the Governor’s Mansion to be ready in time for the big party. “We got a new roof on, so that’s some progress, but we’ve got a lot of work to do there,” Rauner said.

But governin’ Illinois isn’t all mansion rehabbin’ and party plannin’, and Rauner then got down to business by answering several questions that seemed as if they were handed to him by big fans of the austerity-driven “Turnaround” agenda he’s spent the past year pushing.

First up was Illinois’ pension crisis. Rauner said the system would be changing, but he would still protect benefits for existing workers.

“I think we can come to an important solution to reform our pension structure. Protect existing benefits, but put in place new options that are more affordable that employees can choose among," he said. "That’s both fair and constitutional.”

Rauner then got a chance to push charter schools, which he said both he and Diana were big fans of. “They’re not a panacea, they’re not perfect, but they are a competitive option many parents appreciate,” said Rauner. “They’ve done some great work in the City of Chicago...and produced some of the best academic outcomes.”

In what almost seemed a surprising moment, given the level of softballs Rauner somehow found sifting through the more than 800 questions and comments in multiple Facebook threads promoting the livestream, Rauner chose to answer one of many questions posed by the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union, regarding reducing the prison population in the state.

In a departure from many of his fellow Republicans, including the self-proclaimed “law and order” presidential candidate Donald Trump, Rauner said that the state needs to create opportunities for people in the criminal justice system to tamp down recidivism. “We need a correction system that balances punishment with rehabilitation,” said Rauner. “We can’t just throw people in jail, lock ‘em up for a long period of time and assume everything will be fine.”

The handful of questions Rauner answered were specific enough that he also managed to push several pieces of his “Turnaround” agenda. Despite announcing a new government office for the state just a mere 15 minutes prior, Rauner also criticized the “layers of bureaucracy” in state government along with regulations, which he said helps to up property taxes. Additionally, he was able to push term limits once again.

In total, Bruce’s first foray into the world of Facebook Live wasn’t groundbreaking or even all that interesting. Rauner stuck to the same script he’s been pushing since his shake up express careened into the Capitol building in January 2015. It’s no secret he’s less than a fan of public institutions, infrastructure or unions, and the near-half hour he spent awkwardly looking into a cell-phone camera was just another opportunity for him to appear Millennial-minded while pushing policies better suited for our Gilded Age great-grandparents.

Even his last comments from a conveniently posed question about the most enjoyable thing he’s done as governor didn’t really make Rauner seem all that relatable. We already knew he loves to take selfies and play dress up as a biker—that’s part of a carefully crafted image. What we still don’t know is how he can sleep at night knowing a state starving for public resources continues to go hungry.