BLOOMINGTON — Scott Drury likes some of his opponents' ideas for big fixes for Illinois, but the Democratic candidate for governor thinks the state needs to get its house in order first.

"Health care is a right, but to get there, you have to be able to fund it. ... A lot of my counterparts just want to ignore that fact and say, 'We're gonna get from A to B,' without saying how," said Drury, a state representative from Highwood. "Then we don't deliver on it, and (voters) lose faith in the Democratic party. I think that needs to stop."

Drury hopes voters will choose him from among a crowded field of Democrats vying to challenge Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018 because he has more realistic goals and two important qualities: experience and trustworthiness.

"I've been in state government for five years. I have a good sense of how it works and of what doesn't work," said Drury told the Pantagraph. "What the public wants is someone who's going to do what they're saying. ... I'm happy to compare my record with anyone else's."

Drury's resumé includes working as a federal prosecutor and serving in the Illinois House, where this spring he became the first member in 30 years to not vote for Michael Madigan as speaker. He insists that wasn't for publicity, however.

"That's where my district is at. ... It shouldn't be that shocking," Drury said of the vote.

"The General Assembly doesn't believe it can vote as it wants to," he said. "It doesn't represent its constituents. And that's very problematic because you get two people running the state, and when they don't get along, you have two-and-a-half years of no budget while everybody around us is suffering."

Drury's platform includes first addressing pension reform, which he referred to as a "third rail" in state government. Drury said paying that debt — which was not done in the latest state budget despite a large tax increase — is critical to fixing the state's finances, including a $15 billion bill backlog.

"We've buried ourselves through fiscal mismanagement, and it was a bipartisan effort," he said. "If we don't take care of our debt ... we're always going to be lacking in public education, investing in our health care system, job training programs all over the state and investing in our neighborhoods."

Drury also supports term limits for legislators as a way to prevent them from accumulating power as Madigan has; stricter campaign finance rules to prevent billionaires like Rauner from buying off legislators; and independent maps to make state legislative districts more fair.

He also proposes putting more money into Medicaid and giving more tax credits to low-income families as steps toward single-payer health care and backs a progressive income tax structure, which couldn't be implemented until 2021.

"We all know in politics that's a lifetime," he said. "Do we think we don't need to fix anything now?"

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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Staff Writer

Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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