Champaign-Urbana’s Online Magazine
The groundwork for this approach has already been tested at universities across the state, such as Chicago State University and Eastern Illinois University. But Rauner decided to reserve his largest cuts for the flagship public university, the U of I at Urbana-Champaign.
“It’s only fitting that our best public university campus should receive our best public university cuts,” said Rauner. “This is a unique opportunity for Champaign-Urbana. For too long, the community has been feeding off the teat of its own tax dollars. Now, the community will have the chance to support itself.”
Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing and Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen responded with surprise and dismay to the closure of the university, which is the number one employer of community members in Champaign-Urbana.
“Our community depends on its partnership with the U of I,” said Prussing. Feinen agreed, adding, “The university is preparing a generation of Illinois citizens for employment and civic responsibility.”
According to Rauner, however, the responsibility of the state is to protect the short-term interests of its citizens. Drawing on his business expertise, which has earned him $750,000 in baller tax breaks over the last several years, Rauner pointed out that the purpose of civic bodies is to make a profit as quickly as possible.
“Government is really here to make a buck, do nothing, or to do less than nothing,” said Rauner. “If I can’t completely stall a civic benefit, I want to cut it as much as possible in the hopes of saving myself and my golfing buddies the cost of another trip to Maui.”
With layoffs imminent, several Champaign-Urbana community members noted that they are looking forward to spending more time outdoors, with their loved ones, and oil painting.
“Now that I don’t have to pay tax dollars toward anything that benefits anyone, my life is wonderful,” said community member Brett Wright, who I interviewed as he changed his tire after hitting a gaping pothole. “This is the best of all possible worlds,” he added, gesturing toward his children, who lack dental insurance and a path toward careers with retirement options.
“Ultimately, this is about job creation,” said Rauner. “Subtracting tens of thousands of jobs from Champaign-Urbana gives the community a chance to find its bootstraps and thrive.”