Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, in the eighth month of a budget stalemate, urged a Quad-City audience Tuesday to pressure Democratic lawmakers in the area, arguing they are working for House Speaker Mike Madigan, not their constituents.
Rauner and Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti toured Hawk Technology, a manufacturer on Rock Island's southwest side. And as he has on previous visits to the area, Rauner pushed for reforms that he said would make the state more economically competitive with Iowa and other states. But he also was more direct than he has been in the past in criticizing state lawmakers.
Rauner, a Republican, didn't specifically mention state Reps. Mike Smiddy and Pat Verschoore, but the two Democrats are the only state representatives in Rock Island County.
"Speaker Madigan doesn't care about the Quad-Cities. Speaker Madigan cares about the Chicago political machine. The Chicago political machine is doing great. Rock Island is suffering because we’re not competitive," the governor said. "You've got two representatives here working for him, not you. And you ought to talk to them about it."
Rauner argued that his turnaround agenda, which includes changes to collective bargaining and workers' compensation laws, is linked to the state's budget woes. And, as he has elsewhere, he said if the state's economy can just perform at "average" levels when compared with other states, it would be a boon to the budget.
Smiddy, who did not attend the meeting, which was sponsored by the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce and drew about 200 people, said Rauner's criticism wasn't productive and is geared toward the fall elections, not resolving budget disputes.
"Everything that the governor is doing right now is aimed at trying to pick up seats in the Legislature and is not worrying about the welfare of the state of Illinois," said Smiddy, who is from Hillsdale and faces a re-election battle this fall.
Verschoore, who is from Milan, is retiring at the end of this year.
For the most part Tuesday, Rauner blamed Madigan for the budget stalemate. He said that it is "outrageous" there is no budget but that the speaker is insisting on relying on tax increases.
Rauner also made stops in Rockford and Springfield on Tuesday to push for his agenda.