Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Rauner Says State Government Workers Overpaid

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bruce Rauner comes from a venture capital business background.

    You can’t say Bruce Rauner is the kind of candidate who tells people what they want to hear. Campaigning in Springfield on Wednesday, the millionaire financier and Republican gubernatorial hopeful told radio station WMAY that state government workers are overpaid.

    The wealthy Chicago businessman is vowing to bring a more businesslike approach to government… and he says that means getting spending under control.  And in an interview for the 970 WMAY “News Feed,” Rauner points to one specific area where he says Illinois needs to spend much less.  He says government workers are overpaid by 23% compared to public sector workers in neighboring states, and contends the disparity is even worse compared to the private sector.
    Rauner calls that unfair. 
    Here’s a comparison of Illinois with the states that border us:
    Illinois $60,274
    Wisconsin $50,902
    Iowa $50,394
    Indiana $49,157
    Missouri $49,092
    Kentucky $48,046
    Our neighbors’ state government salaries average $49,299.25 a year. That’s actually 18 percent lower than Illinois. Illinois ranks 11th in state government salaries, while our five neighbors are all in the bottom third: Wisconsin is 33rd, Iowa 34th, Indiana 38th, Missouri 39th and Kentucky 41st. However, those are mostly rural state. None has a city whose cost of living is as expensive as Chicago’s (a city whose real estate prices are driven up by people like Rauner, who owns a $4 million condo). It would be fairer to compare Illinois to other large metropolitan states. Here’s how we rank in that category:
    California $71,385
    New York $71,282
    Massachusetts $62,562
    Illinois $60,274
    Pennsylvania $55,137
    Ohio $52,473
    Texas $51,310
    Rauner’s message of austerity for working people would have more resonance if it weren’t coming from someone who has led a life of personal indulgence.
    If you want Illinois to become Illiana or Illitucky, vote for Rauner. But remember, one reason Chicago became competitive in the global area is that Illinois’s public education and public infrastructure are superior to our neighbors. That helped us attract college graduates who saw no future in Midwestern states that refused to invest in themselves.