By Bernard Schoenburg, Political Writer
Posted Oct. 22, 2015 at 11:16 AM
Updated at 4:30 PMGov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday responded to criticism of the current status of state government from two past Republican governors by saying he's looking to the future.Former Gov. Jim Edgar told The State Journal-Register last week that Rauner should quit holding a state spending plan hostage to a list of demands because permanent damage is being done.Former Gov. Jim Thompson later told the Arlington Heights-based Daily Herald, "This is the worst position the state of Illinois has ever been in."Thompson told the newspaper that a resolution would take difficult negotiations."That's the responsibility of the governor and the legislature," Thompson said. "They will have to do their jobs."During a visit to Charlie Parker's Diner in Springfield on Thursday, Rauner was asked if he carries any responsibility for the problems the past governors talked about."I don't spend any time criticizing my fellow Republicans," Rauner said. "I do not spend any time criticizing decisions made in the past that created the mess that we're dealing with.""What we're focused on is the current situation and the future," he added. "Change is difficult. Change causes pain. We believe very strongly that we're going to go through some short-term pain for some very long-term gain."Edgar said business leaders need a stable state government to consider investments and that in the fourth month of a budget impasse between Rauner and the legislature, it is "very unstable.""Hundreds of entrepreneurs have said to me, and the CEOs of many of the largest employers of the state have said to me, 'Governor, stay the course, you're on the right track,' " Rauner said. "We need to see the kind of changes you're pushing for."Rauner listed changes in workers' compensation, lawsuit reform, property tax relief, "and a balance of power between taxpayers and the government insiders.""They all love term limits," he added, "and they believe in redistricting reform so we can have competition in general elections and have a democracy that works for the people again. They love that. They want it."Rauner also called Chicago "a political machine, a government union machine that's dying of its own weight." But he said he's willing to have state government help the city with its financial problems in exchange for help getting reforms he wants passed in the legislature.He said he's told Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "I will help you if you help us. ... If you will not help us restructure the state and get reforms that are very needed and very popular with voters, I will not help you in the city of Chicago."
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