On a campaign stop for his bid for governor, State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, stopped by Joliet Junior College Sunday to talk to voters and accept an endorsement from fellow Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Crest Hill.
“I've served with Daniel for five years,” McGuire said. “We know he's smart. He also has a really big heart and he works like the dickens.”
Biss is one in a pool of Democratic rivals for the nomination to go up against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in next year's election. The big names include Chicago business man Chris Kennedy and Chicago City Alderman Ameya Pawar, but the one getting the most attention and support in Democratic circles is Chicago venture capitalist and billionaire J.B. Pritzker.
Biss has made a point in his campaign to set himself apart from the millions of dollars coming into the race from Rauner, Pritzker and Kennedy. He and Pawar are also positioning themselves as the more progressive candidates in the party. That financial disadvantage, though, has led some in the party to rally around Pritzker as a more practical decision to compete against the deep pockets of the governor.
For McGuire, he argued that what sets Biss apart, is his ability and willingness to tackle issues big and small. Over the hour and a half event, Biss spoke with the 40 or so attendees about property taxes, pension reform, balancing the budget and education funding.
“I don't think we can afford another rookie governor in Illinois, Democrat or Republican,” McGuire said.
McGuire said many of these reforms Biss talks about are needed right in his district. When Joliet Junior College raised tuition by $19 per credit hour earlier this year, the school said it was due to the lack of funding from the state. Biss and McGuire both pointed out to the attendees how students and taxpayers used to finance one third of the school's budget, and now they finance over 90 percent.
They both also argued how the state's flat income tax structure needs to change because it punishes the middle class. McGuire said he remembers when Illinois's economy used to be more industrial, and now it's much more service oriented, but the state government has not changed it economic policies to better fit that environment.
Biss also made a point to return McGuire's praise saying he admired his colleague's authentic and down-to-earth nature and humble curiosity about issues facing his constituents.
“I'm honored to have this endorsement, partially because I love Pat and because of our friendship,” Biss said. “But also because partially that example is perhaps the most important thing that I intend to bring with me to the governor's office.”