In an exclusive interview with NBC 5’s Zoraida Sambolin Tuesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner championed reforms for redistricting and term limits before sidestepping questions about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“I’m not commenting on the presidential race, per se,” Rauner said. “I want the people of Illinois to make up their own minds. But we need to reform the system. It’s broken, it’s not working for us.”
After being pressed about Trump, Rauner once again deflected, claiming he is “very focused on Illinois." The governor listed the state’s deficit, debt and unfunded pension liability as some of the most pressing problems facing the state. He also noted that Illinois has the nation’s highest property tax rates.
Rauner has repeatedly tried to distance himself from the Republican nominee, skipping the Republican National Convention in July and choosing not to endorse the divisive billionaire.
On Saturday, Trump stirred up controversy after he sent out a tweet about the shooting death of Chicagoan Nykea Aldridge, cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade. The Republican’s tweet was heavily criticized over the weekend with many claiming he used the tragedy to promote his campaign.
During his interview with NBC 5, Rauner touched on how he's addressing the record-setting violence in Chicago by increasing the penalties for illegal gun trafficking.
“A lot of our guns are coming into Chicago from out of state and they’re being brought in by folks who would run over, pick up a big pile of guns and bring them back and then sell them and distribute them,” Rauner said. “We’ve made that tougher. We’ve closed all the loopholes that were allowing them to get away with that and we’ve made the penalties much tougher for that illegal gun traffic and I’m proud of that.”
Rauner also noted that state police has been patrolling expressways near the city because “gang violence is spilling over onto the expressways.”
“We want to catch these gang bangers before they come back into the other neighborhoods and we’re doing a good job on that,” he added.
Additionally, Rauner was also asked about a potential Chicago Teachers Union strike that could come as early as next month. Rauner didn’t directly address the possibility, but said he has been an “advocate for outstanding public schools in every neighborhood” for 40 years.
“Illinois is the worst state in America for funding schools from the state level,” the governor said. “We overly rely on local property taxes. That pushes property taxes here in Chicago and around the metro area through the roof and the state needs to do more to fund our public schools.”
“So I’m an advocate for more resources for our public schools and I’m pushing to change the way it’s allocated so our low-income districts get more money,” he added.