State News
7:16 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Oberweis, Rauner Kick Off Bloomington Ag Forum

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis.
Credit Charlie Schlenker/Willis Kern / WGLT/Illinois Public Radio
U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis laid into his opponent at an Agriculture forum hosted by the Bloomington-based Illinois Farm Bureau. The GOP State Senator is running against incumbents Dick Durbin.

Oberweis says Durbin has presided over an era of rising poverty, falling employment, and bleeding budgets. When asked about the nation's crumbling infrastructure, Oberweis says he prefers user fees over taxes.

"I think one of the best ways to do it is with user fees to the degree that it can be done."

During a later session with reporters, Oberweis backed off the user fee stance and said those would have to follow changes in spending culture.

"The first thing to do is to look at reducing the waste, fraud and abuse and that's very large in the state of Illinois. Get rid of the corruption tax, and we'll be way ahead of the game."

Oberweis says the gas tax needs to be looked at, though he has never met a tax he likes.      

Meanwhile, GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner stuck to generalities in his remarks to the Illinois Farm Bureau Ag Forum. His top priority is education, but he's not saying exactly how to boost state support for learning.

"We are a wealthy state. We're frittering our wealth away but we still are a pretty wealthy state. And if we decide that education is our priority, the money is there to invest in education." 

Rauner says Illinois' education funding formula is broken and includes too much favoritism without transparency. He also favors letting the income tax increase expire and freezing property taxes.

Rauner tells the farm audience he would change the ag department to eliminate cronyism he says is common in Government. He says farm interests need to have a greater say in how that department functions. He has criticized Governor Quinn's appointment of former State Representative Bob Flider as Ag Director, saying Flider is not a farmer.

Quinn and Durbin appeared later at the forum later Wednesday.