SPRINGFIELD — While Republicans rallied at an Illinois State Fair picnic Wednesday, union members stood outside the event protesting budget cuts being implemented by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Members of the Service Employees International Union — many of them affected by cuts to programs serving the elderly, children and the disabled — booed as the first GOP chief executive in 12 years arrived at the picnic on his Harley Davidson motorcycle.
They continued their chanting throughout a series of political speeches designed to rally the party faithful.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider shrugged off the protest, saying voters spoke loud and clear last November when they elected Bruce Rauner governor.
Rauner isn’t the first governor to be badgered by union members angry over his policies. Former Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, was dogged by members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees as he toured the fairgrounds after he’d proposed closing numerous state facilities.
Marya Broadway of Calumet Park told the Associated Press that Rauner has “knocked a lot of people off of child care.”
She says some parents are being forced to quit their jobs because of the ongoing budget battle between the governor and Democrats who control the House and the Senate.
Rauner put the blame for the budget mess on House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, whom he says is blocking his attempts to reduce the power of labor unions in order to reduce costs to the state and to local governments.