By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Dan Rutherford's job as Illinois treasurer requires a lot of number crunching, and he told Quincy business leaders Wednesday about some numbers he thinks make him the best Republican choice for Illinois governor.
"I'm the only Republican running for governor who has won a statewide race," Rutherford said.
"We got 22 percent of the vote in Chicago, and I got 66,000 more votes than Pat Quinn got for governor ... even though 83,000 fewer votes were cast for treasurer than for governor," Rutherford said.
The Pontiac businessman said jobs and economic development is the one issue that will resonate with voters all over the state. With that in mind, Rutherford has picked Steve Kim, a businessman and attorney from Northbrook, as his running mate. Rutherford also promised to transform the lieutenant governor's office as the Office of Job Creation and Retention.
"I want my lieutenant governor to be the ombudsman and the liaison between the private sector and government offices where there are bureaucratic problems," Rutherford said.
Rutherford told how a woman who owns a flower shop tried for hours to pay her retail taxes online, but the Illinois Department of Revenue website was overloaded. She got a late penalty after remitting the taxes the next day. She also was told that the IDOR website often is unable to handle the traffic.
Rutherford promised that if he's elected governor, his agency directors are going to have to promise to fix problems, rather than expect taxpayers to live with the problems.
Speaking at Spring Lake Country Club to the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce and the local NFIB chapter, Rutherford was aware that many of his listeners may favor Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, for lieutenant governor. Rutherford called Tracy a friend who he likes and respects.
"But you're going to be voting for governor, not just lieutenant governor," Rutherford said.
Audience members asked whether the state's 5 percent income tax rate will be allowed to fall back in 2015.
"I don't want it," Rutherford repeated several times.
He then added that several big problems will need to be solved in Illinois or "some form of revenue" will be needed. Rutherford said the pension crisis, the bill backlog, the state's over-spending and the reliance on borrowing money all need to be solved.
"I don't want the tax, but these components are going to have to be resolved or the next governor will have to decide where to come up with $7 billion," Rutherford said.
Earlier in the day, Rutherford pledged that his administration would pursue strategic, long-range planning for state facilities. He said Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn caught communities and state workers off-guard when they abruptly closed prisons, mental health facilities and other operations. One result of those decisions has been a prison system that is designed to house 32,000 inmates, but now is overcrowded with 49,000 prisoners.
"Proper planning needs to be in place. As governor, I will see that it is," Rutherford said.