Gov. Bruce Rauner said he won’t attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration later this month.
“I’m not going to go,” Rauner said in an interview with NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern. “I’m focused on Illinois. I really try to minimize the distractions. I minimize my time out of state.”
Rauner reportedly had a “good, positive conversation” with Trump following the Republican’s election last November. During Wednesday’s interview, Rauner noted that members of his administration are still in touch with Trump’s incoming administration “from time to time.”
Nevertheless, the governor remains focused on passing a full, balanced budget with reforms. The state’s latest stopgap budget ended at the start of the year, leaving state funding for higher education and health and human services in limbo.
Rauner halted further negotiations last month after House Speaker Michael Madigan and Illinois Democrats failed to put forth a budget proposal. During Wednesday's interview, the Republican made it clear that he won't consider an income tax hike unless lawmakers agree to elements of his turnaround agenda.
Rauner faulted Illinois Democrats Wednesday for not considering his proposed reforms.
“If you don’t like the changes that I’m proposing — term limits, property tax freeze, pension reform, school funding reform — if you don’t like those, make your recommendations,” the governor said. “But we need to change the system.”
Madigan, Rauner’s primary political adversary, is up for reelection as house speaker next week. The governor claimed Wednesday that he’s staying out of the election altogether.
“I’m not getting involved in any of the General Assembly’s decisions on their leadership,” Rauner told NBC 5.
However, the Illinois Republican Party has gotten involved in the race, launching a “Boss Madigan” blog targeting Illinois Democrats with ties to the longtime speaker. Rauner dumped millions into the Illinois Republican Party’s coiffeurs in the lead-up to the 2016 general election, but claimed Wednesday that he doesn’t “run” the party.
“I support it,” he said. “We need a two-party system. We were a one-party state for a long time."
The vote on speaker leadership will take place next Wednesday, after the new General Assembly is sworn in. Madigan has been the speaker for 31 years and has rarely faced a challenger.