SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Gary Rabine, a Republican primary candidate running for governor in Illinois, said he opposes state spending on expanding early childhood education programs, and suggested families should “figure it out” on their own.
“Early childhood education, I’m not not a fan of, number one,” Rabine said in an interview on Capitol Connection. “I think there’s a lot of money spent there. I think parents need to raise their own kids and our government shouldn’t be raising kids.”
Rabine was responding to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s recent State of the State and budget address where the incumbent Democrat called to spend an extra $54 million on early childhood education in the upcoming fiscal year, and funnel another $350 million to the most severely underfunded local K-12 school districts.
Rabine called higher state spending on K-12 education “a good idea,” but suggested that money shouldn’t go toward paying teachers higher wages.
“We continually give raises to and coddle the teachers unions to give them more money,” Rabine said. “It’s not the right way to do it.”
Illinois recently established a new $40,000 minimum wage for public school teachers. School districts have until 2023 to start paying the higher wage floor. When Pritzker signed the teacher’s minimum wage increase into law, more than 5,500 Illinois teachers were making less than $40,000, according to a report from the Illinois State Board of Education.
Rabine predicted Illinois’ pension systems are “going to crash,” but also said he’s “not a fan” of Pritzker’s proposal to pay down the pension debt faster with an additional $500M to the Pension Stabilization Fund. Pritzker’s budget office forecasts that decision this year will reduce long-term liabilities by $1.8 billion.
“We have to make sure that we’re actually addressing the future besides just continually paying and paying it back on a bad system is not a good idea,” Rabine said.
He suggested he could favor a shift from the state’s pension system over to a 401k retirement plan.
Rabine repeated his criticism of his GOP rival Richard Irvin, the mayor of Aurora, and said he “wouldn’t call him a Republican.”
“The establishment will go where the money’s at,” Rabine said. “I think they’re seeing big money behind him. They think that’s bigger odds of him winning, I guess. But I disagree with that.”
Rabine also said he’s not satisified with state senator Darren Bailey’s repeated attempts to explain why he voted to raise property taxes 13 times in the span of 17 years on the North Clay School Board.
“I’m a person that’s always going to fight higher taxes every chance I get,” Rabine said. “I want you to manage your money better, right? And if you’re just up in taxes with every decision that you make, it’s not a good thing. It’s not showing that you’re looking back at the cost of what you spent in your overhead that you spent to see ‘Are you are you lean and mean?’ You should be lean and mean in every form of government, in my opinion. And if you’re raising taxes every time there’s an opportunity to, that doesn’t sound like lean and mean to me.”
Rabine hit Bailey for his electability issues, and suggested the Louisville farmer would struggle to build political support in the key battleground of the suburbs.
“I’m confident that J.B. Pritzker would love to see Darren as the primary winner,” Rabine said.
Rabine refused to pick sides between Vice President Mike Pence and former President Donald Trump in their public disagreement over the outcome of the 2020 election.
“His relationship with his vice president is not something I’m concerned with,” Rabine deflected.
However, the asphalt business magnate said, “absolutely, yes,” he would respect the outcome of Illinois’ primary election in June and general election in November.
“We’re going to have plenty of poll watchers that maybe we didn’t have before,” Rabine said. “We think we’re going to have some judges… a lot more judges this time. Then we’re goin to watch the polls much closer, hopefully, than normal.”