MARION - Surrounded by members of the Marion High School Young Republicans Club, Aisin Manufacturing (AMI) employees and city officials, Gov. Bruce Rauner Wednesday praised Aisin and the work that the company has done over the last several years.
The governor's visit to car parts manufacturer was part of a two-day tour of various state institutions and businesses.
"Your success is Illinois' success," Rauner told Aisin executives. Rauner also thanked Aisin employees for their hard work in creating "great products."
During his speech, Rauner touched on his hopes for Illinois, telling the crowd, "I work for you. Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, I work for you."
Rauner stressed the importance of coming together in Springfield, saying that the argument over the budget was in regards to his insistence on a balanced budget.
"We've got to live within our means, like the working families of Illinois do," he said.
Rauner went on to refer to Democrats' desire to raise taxes to offset the state's financial issues as "duct-tape over the problem," something he said would not work. He called for fixing infrastructure, bringing down wasteful spending, and bringing in more jobs as the best way to improve quality of life in the state.
When asked about a proposed stop-gap measure that could keep SIU-Carbondale and essential services like rape crisis centers open, Rauner said, "The challenge with that is, we've been doing these short-term deficit-spending plans, because they say, 'We have to do a little spending here or there.' Rather than that, let's do a balanced budget so we can help SIU for years and years."
Rauner said that the key to a balanced budget that stays balanced is to grow the economy and shrink bureaucracy.
"Otherwise, we'll never be funding SIU at the level we really need."
Rauner was joined at Aisin by Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) and Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton), who toured the Marion facility on Wednesday morning.
Fowler said Aisin's great success combined with the creation of good-paying jobs is a standard bearer for the region.
While speaking to the crowd, Rauner also praised the work done in the statehouse by Fowler and Severin.
"I can't tell you how proud I am that they have joined us in state government in Springfield, representing you, and working for you - not the Chicago political machine," Rauner said.
In addition to Fowler and Severin, Rauner was greeted by a group of protesters who stood on the side of REDCO Drive, holding signs emblazoned with "Rauner: One and Done!" and other similar sentiments.
Rauner said his trip around the state is not funded in any regard by taxpayers.
"It's just part of communicating (around the state)," he said.
According to employees in Rauner's office, the visit to Aisin was paid for by the governor's "political action" team, but did not clarify whether it was counted as a campaign event.