* More background is here. Bloomington radio station host Sam Wood said he “laid into” Gov. Bruce Rauner during his radio show yesterday over this…
Gov. BRUCE RAUNER again falsely said in an appearance in Chicago last week that no auto company would take over the former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, omitting the fact that an electric vehicle manufacturer bought it in 2017 in a deal his own administration touted. […]
“We tried to get another … car manufacturer to take over the plant. No one would come in. No one would even take the plant if we gave it to them, because our regulations are so hostile to business and our taxes are so high.” […]
His Chicago remarks were similar to a story — minus the race of the United Auto Workers member involved — that Rauner told talk-show host TOM MILLER in December on Carterville-based WJPF, a station which bills itself as “the voice of southern Illinois.”
“I can’t give this plant away,” Rauner said then, adding, “No auto company wants to invest in Illinois because of (House Speaker MICHAEL) MADIGAN’s power, because of regulations and taxes.”
* Gov. Rauner told Wood his staff was monitoring Wood’s radio program, so he decided to call in unannounced…
Wood: We’ve been talking a little bit about the news — CapitolFax reported out earlier today about some comments you made at a press conference about Rivian Automotive. I have not been filled in on why you’re calling. I’m assuming this is related to that?
Gov: It is. My team listens to you every day. I’m over in Quincy right now at the Veterans home meeting with our heroes here and talking about the new water sources at the veterans home. My team told me that some of our political opponents are spinning up a bunch of kind of false spin in the media and the blogs and with a reporter in Springfield.
Wood: Well I’m going to cut you off there, Governor. What spin? Because we don’t have much time. How is this being spun?
Gov: So quickly, somehow there’s some spin out there that I’m critical of Rivian or don’t think Rivian’s good or gonna do well, and that’s just not true. I love Rivian. We worked hard to recruit them. We cut a deal with them to give them EDGE tax credits and I’m all in for them to succeed. What some of our political opponents are taking out of context is my concern that our regulations and our taxes are not competitive and attractive for manufacturing firms, especially auto companies. The auto industry is booming around the country especially in Indiana and other states. We are not booming like they are we had a hard time finding someone to take that Mitsubishi plant. It had 1,000 UAW workers there and I want tens of thousands of UAW jobs created in Illinois, but our regulations and taxes are pushing us out. So we took a gamble with Rivian, they’re at 40 employees, which is awesome, they hope to add hundreds and we gave them EDGE credits to do it, but it’s frustrating because if we had better competitiveness as a state, we could already have thousands of jobs working in and around that facility. That’s, that was the point I made and it’s being spun, I think, in not a valid way.
Wood: But you can understand why a lot of people in Bloomington-Normal feel like — I mean, this is not the first time you have failed to mention Rivian Automotive. At the Kemp Forum, you completely dismissed the fact that there is an occupant inside that former Mitsubishi plant. It’s Rivian. Why the confusion? Why do you forget that plant is occupied?
Gov: It’s not forgetting, and it’s not being critical of Rivian. The fact is, if we were competitive, if we had the regulations and the tax structure to be attractive to major manufacturing firms, that plant would already be full. That’s not a criticism of Rivian. I’m cheering for them. We worked hard — I worked hard to bring them.
Wood: Gov. Rauner, where does the 1,000 employee number come from? Were you not aware of the benchmarks that were set up as a part of these tax incentives that were offered to Rivian?
Gov: Rivian has nothing to do with 1,000. We hope they get big. We don’t know how big. They’re a startup. The 1,000 was who was there before with Mitsubishi —
Wood: It was more than 1,000.
Gov: Well at the very end that’s what it was, it was way more than 1,000. We could have had thousands of folks there if we were competitive. That’s my point. That’s my only point. It’s not at all critical of Rivian. Rivian’s a great start-up. We want more high-tech start-ups in Illinois. But that plant could have and should have been full with UAW members if we were competitive. That was the point I was making.
Wood: But do you disagree with the fact that Rivian is meeting their benchmarks in terms of what was agreed-upon?
Gov: Uh, I haven’t looked at their latest benchmarks. They are a start-up doing well and we’re cheering for them and I’m a big advocate for Rivian. Different issue from what could have been in that plant if we were competitive, that was the point I’m making.
Wood: All right, fair enough.
Nobody said or even implied that the governor was “critical of Rivian or don’t think Rivian’s good or gonna do well.” The point was he continually talks like Rivian never opened its plant.
* Local officials: Rauner wrong on Rivian