BLOOMINGTON — The Twin Cities was a crossroads Saturday for several leading candidates for the 2018 governor's race.

Democrats J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Ameya Pawar spoke with students at the College Democrats of Illinois session in Illinois State University's Bone Student Center in Normal.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner was at DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington, speaking at the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution state conference.

Other announced Democrats are Daniel Biss, Robert Daiber and Alex Paterakis. Biss is part of a panel at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Caterpillar Auditorium at ISU's College of Business.

Pritzker, a Chicago entrepreneur and investor, spoke of restorative justice for Illinois inmates, how to lessen dependency on fossil fuels and the need for increased funding for education.

“We’re so vastly underfunded in our school systems that schools are fighting for scraps,” said Pritzker. “The state only gives 26 percent of funds to schools and the rest is funded by taxpayers. The state has shirked its responsibility for too long and needs to step up and pay those bills.”

Kennedy, a Chicago businessman and son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, discussed the increase of poverty and evaporation of Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for universities. He told the students to stand up and demand a change.

“You’re currently the biggest generation in American history. The baby boomers demanded change, now it’s your turn. Do what you can to change the future of our country. If we do that, we can restore the American dream for everyone in our state,” said Kennedy.

In Bloomington, Rauner told members of the DAR that he shares many of their passions by supporting education, military and historic programs in the state.

Government spending in Illinois has gone up 66 percent in the last 17 years while jobs stay flat, putting us $185 billion in debt. We can save, not by cutting education or human services, but by shrinking the wasteful spending in our bureaucracy,” said Rauner.

He also shared plans to restore the governor’s mansion in Springfield, which will cost $15 million in privately raised funds.

“Like many things in Illinois, it has been allowed to deteriorate. Next year is the state bicentennial and we’d like to get the governor’s mansion done by then,” he said. "We plan to make it a living museum of Illinois, full of Illinois art, furniture and food."

The DAR ended the event by presenting a donation for the restoration of the mansion.

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer


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