December 14, 2017

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Illinois, Latest News

Throwback: Rauner Called Needed Chicago Veterans Home “Wasteful Spending”

Rauner Stopped Construction on a Needed Home and Later Bragged He Stopped “Wasteful Spending” 

Yesterday, WBEZ/NPR released a heartbreaking story about the death of 13 people at the Quincy Veterans Home due to Legionnaires’ disease. WBEZ recounted how Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration was slow to notify the public about a major outbreak in 2015. Despite Rauner promising his administration has a handle on the disease, outbreaks have occurred the past three years in a row contributing to the death of someone this year.

This is not the first time Rauner’s failed the state’s veterans. In 2015, Rauner halted construction of residential veterans’ home in Chicago due to budget constraints. Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the closest facility to Chicago has a three-month waiting list, a gap this building was supposed to bridge. Now, some 30 months later construction has not restarted.

In 2016, Rauner bragged that he had cut $800 million in “wasteful spending” from the budget. On that list? The Chicago veterans’ home.

“Bruce Rauner has it wrong – caring for veterans is not wasteful spending,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner’s misplaced priorities put political talking points ahead of fulfilling the pledge made by Illinois’ citizens to veterans. Rauner’s administration failed to care for Illinois’ veterans, but he’s too concerned with dodging responsibility than to show leadership on the issue. Now is the time for Rauner to step up.”

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Background

“Bruce Rauner Halted Construction on the Project in July 2015,” Still Abandoned 29 Months Later. According to a Mark Brown column in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Gov. Bruce Rauner halted construction on the project in July 2015 in the early stages of his state budget fight with Democratic legislators. And that’s exactly how the abandoned structure remains 29 months later, open and exposed to the elements of what will soon be its third winter.” [Chicago Sun-Times, Brown column, 11/9/17]

Rauner Claimed “He Himself Had Cut $800 Million in ‘Wasteful Spending’ From the Budget.” According to a Rich Miller column in Crain’s Chicago Business, “And the governor’s contention that he himself had cut $800 million in ‘wasteful spending’ from the budget made it into print and on the air without a single question being asked about what those cuts were.” [Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/8/16]

  • Delay of Veterans Home in Chicago Was On List of “Wasteful Spending.” According to a Rich Miller column in Crain’s Chicago Business, “And then there’s the claimed savings of $4 million due to a delay in the opening of a veterans home in Chicago. But that delay actually ended up increasing the cost of the project and no money was appropriated by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly last fiscal year anyway, so it’s not really a Rauner savings. Also, is a veterans home really ‘wasteful’ spending? I doubt many politicians would make that claim. Much the same could be said of several other programs on the list.” [Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/8/16]

Closest One to Abandoned Chicago Facility Has a 3 Month Waiting List. According to a Mark Brown column in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Illinois operates four residential veterans homes that provide long-term skilled nursing care, but the closest is in Manteno, which currently has a three-month waiting list. The Chicago facility was supposed to bridge that geographic gap. I have never heard anyone argue the project is not needed.” [Chicago Sun-Times, Brown column, 11/9/17]

Rauner Claimed that the State Couldn’t Afford to Finish the Project During Budget Difficulties. According to a Mark Brown column in the Chicago Sun-Times, “What Rauner has said is that the state couldn’t afford to finish the project and open the facility during its budget difficulties.” [Chicago Sun-Times, Brown column, 11/9/17]