Recorded on June 10, 2017
The forty-second governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, joins Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge to discuss Illinois’s budget crisis. With the end of the fiscal year deadline (June 30) looming ever closer Governor Rauner and House majority Democrats will have to come to an agreement to get the budget passed and prevent Illinois’s bond rating from being downgraded to junk, causing Illinois to lose investment-grade status. Peter Robinson and Governor Rauner discuss this financial crisis and Rauner’s goals for the budget. He insists that no budget will be passed unless it is a balanced budget that includes, but is not limited to, term limits, consolidating the government, and pension reform.
Governor Rauner talks about why he chose to enter politics after a successful business career and how he plans on fixing the state that is his home. He details out how Illinois has historically dealt with thirty-five years of deficits and how it ended up in the current financial mess. He also discusses the difficult opposition he's facing with a Democrat-controlled state legislature. The GOP governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature have reached an impasse several times during his tenure as governor, as he refuses to pass a budget that will increase the deficit further than in 2015 and 2016.
Background on the Illinois Budget Crisis
Illinois has been operating without a budget for two years now, as the state legislature has been unable to pass a budget up that will not increase the deficit and also satisfy the requirements of Governor Rauner. The Illinois legislature has managed to keep the state running through temporary stopgap measures, but as the state’s debts continue to rise to more than $150 billion, stopgap measures and the lack of budget will no longer be able to keep the state running. Illinois has been plagued with financial issues during the last several years, even being unable to provide lottery winners with their winnings. The state has been running a deficit for thirty-five years now. If a new budget isn’t passed by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the Illinois bond rating will be downgraded even more than it already has, and Illinois stands to lose millions of dollars in federal funding. To pass a new budget, the plan will have to be passed by a three-fifths majority vote in the Illinois House. As it stands, if Illinois’s bond rating is downgraded, Illinois will be the first state since 1970 to lose investment-grade status.
Peter Robinson: Why would anyone spend a substantial amount of his own money to run for governor, when he knew that if he won, the legislature was certain to do everything it could to thwart him? With us today to explain himself, the 42nd chief executive of the great state of Illinois, Bruce Rauner. Uncommon Knowledge now. Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge, shooting today in the tower room of Baker Library on the campus of Dartmouth College. I'm Peter Robinson. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1978, Bruce Rauner attended Harvard Business School, then returned to his home state of Illinois, where he spent the next three decades at GTCR, a private equity firm in Chicago. Leaving business for politics, Mr. Rauner, a Republican, was elected governor of Illinois in 2014, defeating the incumbent Democrat by four percentage points and carrying every county in the state, except Chicago's Cook County. Governor Rauner immediately attempted to implement a pro-growth economic agenda and immediately ran into opposition from the overwhelmingly democratic legislature, but we will come to that in a moment. Governor Rauner, welcome.
Bruce Rauner: Peter, it's great to be with you. Thank you very much.
Peter Robinson: There's a question that's just unavoidable, so let me start with it. Bloomberg News on June 1st, and as we tape this program that's just over a week ago, quote, "Illinois has had its bond rating downgraded to one step above junk, the lowest rating on record for a US state. Illinois hasn't had a full year budget in place for the last two years, amid a clash between the Democrat run legislature and Republican governor, Bruce Rauner. The ratings agencies warned that Illinois will likely lose its investment grade status all together, an unprecedented step for a state, around July 1st, if leaders haven't agreed on a budget," close quote. So Governor, will you have a budget by July 1st?
Bruce Rauner: We're going to work like heck to try to get a balanced budget. You know, Peter ...
Peter Robinson: You're not backing down, even now.
Bruce Rauner: Not at all. We need to stay the course. Our state has been the worst run state government in America for decades. This is not a recent problem. We have $200 billion in debt. We have fewer jobs than we had 17 years ago, and while we're not growing our economy, our government spending has grown 66% the last 17 years. We're out of control and always deficit spending, and we can't stay on that track anymore, so we need to get a balanced budget with pro-growth reforms to keep the budget balanced in the future.
Peter Robinson: Okay. Governor, we will return to all of that. Let's take a step back though. Two different lives. By the time you retired from private equity, you had become a wealthy man, and it is important to note that you are a self-made man. You began with modest means. Here's life number one. You leave Illinois for some low tech state, let's say Florida, buy a nice place in Coral Gables, up in Palm Beach. You spend a couple hours every morning on your own investment portfolio, and the rest of the day it's golf, sailing, reading all the books you'd wanted to read. That's life number one. Here's life number two. You stay in Illinois, and then you spend tens of millions of dollars of your money to run for governor in a bruising campaign, knowing that you would face long hours, constant political attacks, and a legislature completely dominated by the other party. Bruce Rauner chose life number two. What were you thinking?
Bruce Rauner: I get asked that fairly often. The answer is this is a labor of love. I was born and raised in Illinois. We raised our six children in Illinois. I built many successful companies in Illinois. I love it. It's home, and home is worth fighting for. You know, we've been a terribly run state for decades, and unlike other people, I decided I'm not going to run away. I'm going to change the system. It's broken, and together we can fix it. It's not a partisan issue. It's not about Democrats versus Republicans. It's about the people against the corrupt political insiders who have been in power for decades. We need to get power back to the people again. That's why I ran, and we're going to achieve that goal. You know, I'm a self-made guy. I love to work. I'm a big Teddy Roosevelt fan, and Teddy Roosevelt said it so well, "It's much better to be in the arena covered in mud, and sweat, and blood and battling for what you believe in than being in the spectator stands." I believe that very strongly, and I said, "You know what? Who gets a chance in life to improve the future for 13 million people? I want to fight and make our home better for all the people of Illinois."
Peter Robinson: Okay. All right. Let's spend a moment or two on what went wrong here in the state of Illinois. You get from the end of the second World War right through probably the mid-70s and then there's a resurgence in the 80s, Illinois is a major state, an important economy. You know, because you spent 30 years doing very well, building businesses right there in the Upper Mid-West, and now you've got a state that, as you say, has been running deficits for year in and year out for ... What did you say? 17 years.
Bruce Rauner: 35 years.
Peter Robinson: 35 years. As best I can tell, it's something like six or seven years now that the state has been losing almost 100,000 people a year, people voting with their feet, getting out of there. What went wrong? What went wrong in Illinois?
Bruce Rauner: Well, there are many factors, but we were taken over in 1983 by some politicians who were really in public service for their own benefit, a lot of self-dealing, a lot of corruption. Government insiders, special interest groups that make their money from government became ascendant and really took power, and as a result, deficit spending, inside deals, corruption, cronyism, patronage. Four out of the prior nine governors to my administration, four of them went to prison. Many members of the General Assembly are engaged in very much self-dealing and selfish behavior, and the system has just broken down. We have the best people in American, hardworking, great workforce. We have the best location of any state in America, very strategic, great agriculture, great natural resources, incredible transportation network. We should be one of the fastest growing states in America. We should be right up there with any state, Texas or anywhere else, but for decades and decades we've been one of the slowest growing states. Business is leaving, people leaving. The corruption, the taxes, the deficits, and the regulations on our businesses, we are a constrictive, anti-growth state. We have doubled the number of regulations on our business that the states around us have, and businesses have been voting with their feet. People have been voting with their feet. This has been going on, and we got to change that direction.
Peter Robinson: Okay. Let's get to what you ran on here. You ran on something you call the Turnaround Agenda. Of course we don't have time to go into in great detail, and by the way, to your credit, it was quite detailed. It was quite a detailed agenda. People could know what they were voting for when they voted for you. The economic competitiveness and job growth package, what was the point of that? What did you want to do when you campaigned on that?
Bruce Rauner: Here's the key. We can't get our way out of our problems without strong economic growth. We've got to have our economy growing faster than our government's spending, or we will just continuously be chasing our tail down. That's what we've been doing for years. I wanted to cut the red tape, cut the regulations, became much more free enterprise and pro-growth, and I wanted to change the culture of government. Our political system is really designed, our government is designed to help politics, rather than serve tax payers and serve the residents, and I wanted to change that culture. That's really what everything that we're fighting for is trying to do.
Peter Robinson: Taxes, you had what you call the tax payer protection and property tax freeze package, which means?
Bruce Rauner: Well, we have the highest property taxes in America, right up there with New Jersey, and we have political leaders, the head of the legislature, the head of the Democratic party, also happens to have a property tax appeal law firm, where he's become a millionaire by holding up business owners in Cook County for their property tax appeals. We have a very corrupt, self-interested regime running the system. What I said is let's break that system up. Let's freeze property taxes by law, and let's empower local residents, local voters to decide themselves what their property tax levy should be by voter referendum. They want more taxes for their schools, they can vote to do it. They want their property tax levy to come down, they can vote to do that. Give power to the people, and take it away from the politicians.
Peter Robinson: All right. There was more in your Turnaround Agenda, but the last one I'd like to ask about just briefly, the pension reform package.
Bruce Rauner: Yes. Critically important. We have the worst unfunded pension liability in America. Our challenge is that our constitution, our state constitution has the most restrictive, protective pension language in America. No state has more protections. We basically can't touch any restructuring, like many other states have done. However, I worked on a bipartisan basis and came up with a plan that would be constitutional, that basically changes pensions for future employees, but also for current employees for future work, that could save billions of dollars, but so far the General Assembly doesn't want to do it. They don't want to upset the government unions. So far they've resisted that, but we need real pension reform.
Peter Robinson: Okay. You said to the political class of Illinois, "I am coming after you," and you got the people of the state to back you, and it, by the way, should also be noted that, as best I can tell, you had endorsements from every major newspaper in this state.
Bruce Rauner: We did.
Peter Robinson: We'll get to what did happen. What did you think would happen? You say to a guy, "Here's a club, and the moment I get elected I'm going to smack you right between the eyes." What did you think the legislature would do?
Bruce Rauner: The good news is that many Democrats in the General Assembly know that what we're advocating for is the right thing for the long term. The issue is getting them to vote the right away against the wishes of their leadership, The speak is very powerful, been the speaker for 35 years.
Peter Robinson: Speaker Madigan.
Bruce Rauner: That's correct. The issue is he's very much focused on self-dealing and maintaining the status quo. We've got to convince his caucus members to vote the right way. We're getting there, but it's been too slow.
Peter Robinson: Okay. Here's what has happened so far. Let me try to compress the story of two and a half years into just a few items. All right? Item, you came out swinging. You signed executive orders halting state hiring, halting state discretionary spending, and ending the practice of automatically deducting certain union fees from paychecks of state employees, and then you prepared a budget with 4.1 billion in cuts. Item, the legislature enacts a budget that ignores your cuts. You veto that budget. Item, after a year without a budget, in June of last year you and the legislature agree on a stop gap measure that enables public schools to keep operating for one year and certain state services to continue for six months, so you hold the state together. Item, as we sit here today, the stop gap measure has expired, and you and the legislature have once again refused on a budget. The state's unpaid bills now amount to billions, many tens of billions. The state's already paying about 2% more on its debt than states in better economic or financial state. Now, as I said, the ratings agencies claim they're going to downgrade your debt to junk end of July. Governor, you've had quite a two and a half years.
Bruce Rauner: It's dog years. It's really like 14 years.
Peter Robinson: So, here's the question. As I said, you carried every county, except Cook County. You had the endorsements of all the big newspapers, and you won by 4 points. Now, that's not a landslide, but it's a decisive margin. Why does the legislature feel so free to defy you? These guys are playing chicken with the governor of their state.
Bruce Rauner: Well, what they're doing is not serving the people of Illinois. The people of Illinois deserve balanced budgets. Frankly, we have a constitutional requirement to have balanced budgets, yet when I came into office we had over $170 billion in debt. That doesn't happen through balanced budgets, and we have a system where we don't have jobs. You know, we have the highest unemployment rate for African Americans in the nation. We have one of the lowest rates of economic growth and job creation in the nation, and it's purely self-inflicted by bad policies and bad government in Springfield. This is the reason many Democrats, voters, Democrats and Republicans, are with us very strongly, but the insiders, the special interest groups, the government unions, and the speaker, are united. They don't want to change anything, and they ae locked down as saying, "Maintain the status quo." What they'd like to do is force Republicans to vote for a massive tax hike to bail out the overspending, and that will solve no problems. We cannot tax our way out of our problems. We need to grow our way out of our problems.
Peter Robinson: Okay. I want to ask again about that in just a moment, but first, Indiana, just next door, and beginning with the election of Mitch Daniels, Governor Mitch Daniels, who I'm sure is a good friend of yours ...
Bruce Rauner: He's my mentor. He was the best governor in America I think in the last 50 years.
Peter Robinson: In 2013 Indiana has enacted just the kind of agenda you proposed, lower taxes, government reform, and just the kind of economic growth that you would predict for Illinois. Why is Indiana different from Illinois? What's the difference in the politics? Why does their politics work and yours gets gummed up?
Bruce Rauner: Well, they have not had the type of corruption, and self-dealing, and folks in government who are there for the wrong reasons. That's one key point for me. I want to have term limits in Illinois. Let's get the folks who are locked in for 20, 30, 40 years in power, let's get them out. Let's get fresh ideas, new leadership, whether Democrat or Republican. Let's get people who are there for the right reasons, not as a career to make money. That's a fundamental difference between Illinois and Indiana. When the business community recruited me to run, they asked me to run, I said, "Well, I've never been in public service directly. I've been an advocate, but I've never been in, so I want to study," so I went to see Mitch Daniels, and I sat with him for two days in Indianapolis. I said, "Mitch, how'd you do it? What'd you do? What was the strategy? How'd you get it done?" Then I went and I visited with Jeb Bush, and I visited with Rick Snyder, and I visited with Scott Walker, and I visited with many of the governors, spent time. They coached me. They advised me. Then I put together a team, I think the best team of any state government in America. I brought the COO from Georgia to run Illinois. I brought the head of corrections from Iowa to run our prison system. I brought the head of human services from Florida to run our human services. I brought the head of the legal department from Mitch Daniels to come run our legal service.
Peter Robinson: So, old private equity guy. You're doing a search across the whole nation, bring the best talent I can find.
Bruce Rauner: Exactly right.
Peter Robinson: I've got a turnaround on my hands.
Bruce Rauner: That's exactly right.
Peter Robinson: Okay. Here's where matters stand. This was Wall Street Journal earlier this year. "Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner, has been trying to pull the land of Lincoln out of economic decline, amid obstruction by state Democrats, and it's a losing battle." Governor, I'm sorry to say that. That's the Wall Street Journal. "It's a losing battle. After two years without a state budget, MR. Rauner is now bending, as Democrats promise to hold the budget hostage if he doesn't sign a tax increase," close quote." Are you bending?
Bruce Rauner: What we've got to do is get a balanced budget, and we'll never give in on that. We will stay persistent. We have to. We have to change direction, and we're negotiating actually 24/7. Literally my team is negotiating with the majority in the General Assembly today, and every day, and every weekend. I was on the phone this morning with members of the General Assembly. We need to come up with balanced budget. The good news is we've gotten the majority party to work with us. They're working, negotiating on term limits. They're working on a property tax freeze. They're working on consolidating government, and we have 7,000 units of local government, double what most states have, corruption, cronyism, patronage, high taxes. They're working on pension reform. We've got them to the table, and they're working on the right issues. They're not quite there yet, but we're never going to give up. I think we're going to get there.
Peter Robinson: Okay. Here's a layman's, here's a non-Illinoisan's question. Two Republican governors, two reform governors, at least they started as reform governors, both of them. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California. He was elected in 2003. He makes a serious effort to reform California government for about a year and a half. Then in 2005 there's a group of ballot measures that he proposed and that he considered necessary to reform the state, and they go down to defeat. The unions poured money into that campaign to defeat them, and they did defeat them. Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "You win." Effectively he governed from that point on as a centrist Democrat, even though he was elected as a Republican. Now, that's not nothing, just holding California together, just getting those budgets passed.
Bruce Rauner: We need more than that.
Peter Robinson: OK. There's the Schwarzenegger example, and then you've got Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who just said, "We're going to reform this state, and he took violent protests, and he survived a recall election. Here's Schwarzenegger on the spectrum, and here's Scott Walker, who's just going to do it, no matter what. Where's Bruce Rauner?
Bruce Rauner: You know what? We're going to get it done. Peter, the reason we're going to succeed is the biggest changes we're driving have nothing to do with the General Assembly, nothing to do with any votes inside Springfield. What we've done, I signed an executive order my first month in office. I said, "If you're in a union in my administrator and you don't want to be, you don't have to be, and you don't have to pay any of the dues," We got sued. We're in Federal Court. We are heading with that lawsuit to the US Supreme Court this September. Nothing to do with any of the budget. Nothing to do with any of the reform agenda in the legislature. We are going to be in front of the Supreme Court, and there is more than a 90% odds that we win that case.
Peter Robinson: That'll change everything, the culture. Right?
Bruce Rauner: That will change the culture and the power structure in Illinois, but across America. When we win that case, every state government, every local government, and every school district in America will no longer be able to force a union membership of the person working for the tax payers doesn't want to be. That's transformative for Illinois and across America. The second big thing we're doing, same dynamic. I've never said Illinois should be right to work state, because we have a majority General Assembly who doesn't believe in freedom, and free enterprise, and free choice, but I went to local governments, cities and counties, and I said, "you should control your competitiveness in your economy. You should decide whether you want your city to be able to compete against Indiana, or Tennessee, or Texas." I got 36 cities and counties to pass local ordinances allowing local control of their labor regulations and other types of regulations. We got sued. Many of the communities abandoned their efforts in court, but one community, Lincolnshire, in the North suburbs of Chicago, says, "We're going to stay the course." I'm advocating with them and helping them with that. We are now in Federal Court. We're heading to the Supreme Court in 2018. It's not as high a probability as our government freedom case, but while we've been in court, Hardin County, Kentucky, before Matt Bevin won as governor and it became a pro-growth state, before that they had a county, Hardin County, that wanted to compete with Tennessee and Texas for jobs. They passed an ordinance, no more forces unionism in their county, even though the state was a forced union state. They won in Federal Appellate Court. This court said, "You can, as a county, decide." Now we have competing court rulings, and we're going to bring our case to the Supreme Court. Theirs is dropped, because they've become a freedom state. Ours is going to get to the Supreme Court. I think we're going to win. We got about a 70% chance. When we do, we will have many counties in Illinois, but also New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and California, that will vote for economic freedom and competition and change the dynamic completely. That will have nothing to do with the legislature or our budget fight. These are transformative changes that we are driving.
Peter Robinson: You've got, down there in Springfield, everybody's dug in. We're at trench warfare right now. They're dug in over there. You're dug in over here, but then Bruce Rauner says, "By the way, while you fellas are digging those trenches over there, I'm going to go around you, and we've got a couple of court cases that could just transform the culture of government at the state and local level across the country." You really are their worst nightmare, Governor. Okay. Back to the trench warfare, back to your budget impasse, because that really is trench warfare. George Will, this is after interviewing you last year, "Governor Bruce Rauner is remarkably relaxed for somebody at the epicenter of a crisis, but then," George Will continues, "But then, stress is pointless when the situation is hopeless," close quote. You going to buy that, hopeless?
Bruce Rauner: Oh. Not hopeless at all. You know, I had a woman, an elderly woman, come up to me last month. She couldn't move very well, but she came up, she grabbed me by the arm. She looked me in the eyes. She teared up, and she said, "Governor, you're our last hope. Don't give up," and she said, "And I'm a Democrat, and many of my friends are Democrats. We know you're doing the right thing." I get that every day. I get people coming to me and saying, "Governor, stay strong. Don't give up. Don't give in. Don't back down. We're with you. We know we need these changes. Our system's broken," and many of them go on and say, "And I'm a Democrat. I don't normally vote Republicans, but I support you. We need you to lead this turnaround."
Peter Robinson: Wow. Okay. Now that I'm an expert, because I've been reading up on Illinois for the last week to prepare for this interview, let me tell you what I think's going to happen, and then you tell me what is going to happen. It sounds to me as though this situation with regarding the bond rating is pretty dire, and the legislature and your team negotiating is going to come up with some stop gap measure that'll kick the ball, and the Democrats really, when it comes right down to them, you, and what you stand for, and what you're doing, and these—you are just plain unacceptable. So, they are going to wait you out. Your first term expires, and you have to run for re-election. Are you formally committed to running for re-election?
Bruce Rauner: I haven't made any formal announcements yet.
Peter Robinson: No, but all right. You seem to be enjoying yourself, so is it going to come down to the election of 2018?
Bruce Rauner: Well, the majority party in the General Assembly has made it clear. They don't think that I can be re-elected without a budget, and they don't want to give me a balanced budget. They've been very clear on that, and they would like chaos. They would like damage. It breaks my heart. You know, we need government to work for the people, and there are people suffering from no balanced budget. People are being hurt, and many of these are organizations that my wife and I have supported for decades, and they know that. They're very manipulative on the other side, very corrupt. It's very much self-dealing, but the good news is the people know that, and I think many of the people, Democrats and Republicans in the state, are going to stand with us and say, "We need change. We're going to support you."
Peter Robinson: Okay. I'm trying to ask in a kind of oblique way whether you're running again, so let me go ahead in a slightly less oblique way. They want you. They want you. They want you out of office, and so they're going to wait until 2018, and really the only way you can break up that ... The only time you're going to get a chance to break the furniture that needs to be smashed is after getting re-elected, so Governor, don't you want to commit yourself right now? Is that right, or can you actually get stuff done between now and 2018? What do you think?
Bruce Rauner: Oh. We can get a tremendous amount done. We've cut $800 million of operating cost. We've modernizing our IT system. We've transformed criminal justice system to focus on rehabilitation, mental health, and addiction treatment for non-violent offenders. We've reduced the prison population 10% since I became governor and 49% in the juvenile justice system. We're transforming the system on everything we can control, and inside the government we've signed government union contracts with 18 of the government unions that are transformative, paying merit pay and incentive pay, rather than just seniority, and changing the work rules, changing the outside contracting, changing healthcare, and changing pensions. Now, they've threatened to strike. I said, "I'll stand against that," so they backed off. They know that I will prevail if they did strike. We would keep the government running. Then they went to court. They're holding us up. They're blocking the implementation of our contract with AFSCME, but we're going to prevail in court, and we will implement our contract, and we will save billions of dollars in the coming year, starting in the coming year when we prevail. There are big changes that we're driving.
Peter Robinson: Okay. I'm trying to figure out ... Bruce Rauner's important, because Illinois's important. Bruce Rauner's also important, because there is this very powerful impulse in this country right now, as the election of our current president indicates, just break up the old order, just in state, after state, after state, after state, in Washington DC, and here's Rauner taking a run at it. Now, what I'm trying to figure out is we'll know soon enough how well all of this succeeds. Those court cases will be decided, but what effect has it had on Bruce Rauner? How many people actually are going to want to follow your example? On the one hand, you sound to me like a man who actually enjoys a fight, and you also sound like a man who's getting enough done, despite the budget impasse, to find the job satisfying. On the other hand, I had a little chat with Mrs. Rauner while you were being made up, and she tells me you've lost 25 pounds in this job.
Bruce Rauner: Yeah. That might be a little much, but yeah. My joke is when I started this job I was 6'8" and had a full head of hair. This is really hard, very hard, very stressful, living on adrenaline, and I'm a workaholic. I'm giving speeches seven days a week, five, six times a day. I'm speaking at African American churches every Sunday morning, and I judge myself by how many standing ovations I get. I love talking to a crowd and getting them revved up, but this is a noble mission. We are fighting for the future of Illinois, for the grandchildren and the children of our state, so we can have a better future. There is nothing more motivating, and humbling, and gratifying than that opportunity. I've never been in elected office in my life. I didn't even run for Student Council in high school, so this is all a new thing for me, but I tell you what. It is deeply, deeply humbling and gratifying, and I would encourage anyone who has the passion to be a public servant. See, it's very different. A lot of people choose politics as a way to make money, and get a good pension, and have some power and your name in the paper. I don't care about any of that. Frankly, I asked 17 men and women to run. I tried to recruit them. When I was asked to run I said, "Look. Let's get somebody who's been in."
Peter Robinson: You were your own 18th choice?
Bruce Rauner: I was. I was. I went to 17 men and women. I said, "Please run." I went to Hank Paulson, who's Treasury Secretary.
Peter Robinson: Oh, sure.
Bruce Rauner: I went to many people who I respect. I said, "Run for governor. I'll give you X million, I'll raise you Y, and I'll work for you for a dollar a year. Let's make Illinois strong and wonderful again." They all said, "Oh. Too invasive, abusive, expensive," and many of them said, not all said, "do what I’m doing, change your residency to Florida." I said, "You know what?"
Peter Robinson: That's what I'm advising you, Governor.
Bruce Rauner: This is home. We need to fight to protect home, and this is what the people of America want in so many of our communities, and we're doing it in Illinois. We're going to make a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
Peter Robinson: Okay. A couple of last questions here. Tomorrow morning your daughter will graduate from Dartmouth College.
Bruce Rauner: She will. Very exciting.
Peter Robinson: What advice would you give her and her classmates that you wish someone had given you in the spring of 1978, when you graduated from Dartmouth College?
Bruce Rauner: Well, my strongest advice always is follow your passion. Follow your heart. You know what? We're all put on Earth. We're all God's children. We are here to help each other, work together, make our world a better place, make a difference. Make a difference in people's lives. Make a positive difference. Have an impact in whatever way, in whatever regard. That's where the deepest source of happiness and true fulfillment comes from.
Peter Robinson: All right. Last question of all then. Consider your daughter's graduating class. I know that you know many of her friends. You've gotten to know these kids over these past four years. These are fortunate students. They're all intelligent.
Bruce Rauner: Super talented. Yeah. Very talented.
Peter Robinson: Super talented. They've been beautifully educated by this wonderful institution, and now what must they be thinking when they look at your example? They say, "Wow. Bruce Rauner. For 30 years he led a fascinating life and made a fortune. Then he went into politics, and that admirable man has spent the last two and a half years banging his head against a wall." I'm making a serious point here. These kids have such enticing opportunities in the private sector now, and the public sector, not just in Illinois, but as we know, almost everywhere, the public sector is so dysfunctional and so unattractive for ...
Bruce Rauner: All the more reason that good, talented, honest people need to go into it.
Peter Robinson: That's my question. What do you say to them to persuade them that public service still has a place in a well lived life?
Bruce Rauner: You know, America is the greatest nation on Earth, because we have a democracy built on freedom and freedom principles, and democracy only works when the citizens get informed, engaged, involved in the process, and I encourage everyone to get involved in whatever way they can as real public service, not as a way to make money or a pension, but as a way to help make a better life for all of us in America. You know, I got my values from my grandfather. He was my best buddy growing up. He was an immigrant, didn't speak much English. He spoke Swedish. He lived in a little double-wide trailer. I never inherited any money, but he taught me three things. He said, "Bruce, whatever you do, work your fanny off, give 100%, your best effort every day." He said, "Make sure you get a great education. Go as far as you can in education. It's the way to be able to get your best opportunities." Number three, he said, "Make sure you give back in the community. You know what? Everybody needs some help. We have a moral duty to help each other." I've tried to live my life that way. We try to help our six children live their lives that way. Public service, true public service is one of the most noble ways we can do that.
Peter Robinson: Bruce Rauner, member of the Dartmouth college class of 1978, father of a member of the Dartmouth class of 2017, and the 42nd governor of the great state of Illinois, thank you.
Bruce Rauner: It's great to be with you, Peter. Thank you.
Peter Robinson: For Uncommon Knowledge and the Hoover Institution, I'm Peter Robinson.