Facing increasing pressure to weigh in on a controversial cartoon from the Illinois Policy Institute, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bruce Rauner offered a lengthy response on the conservative think tank’s illustration Tuesday – but yet again refused to say whether or not the governor has seen it.

The cartoon depicts a black child begging on the street, holding a sign reading “Need money 4 school” as a white man says, “Sorry kid, I’m broke,” showing him an empty pocket as the other appears stuffed with wads of cash marked “TIF $.”

Photo credit: Illinois Policy Institute

Several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle derided the cartoon as “offensive” in an emotional discussion on the House floor on Wednesday, calling on both the IPI to apologize, and Rauner to denounce it.

However, on Friday, his office said he had not seen the cartoon at the center of the debate, adding on Sunday that “He doesn’t have time to worry about political cartoons when we don’t have an agreement on K12 funding. His priorities are where they should be.”

On Tuesday, Rauner’s spokeswoman Laurel Patrick offered the longest response yet to the controversy, but once again declined to say whether the governor had seen it. Her statement reads as follows:

Charges of racism must be taken very seriously. The tragedy in Charlottesville and its aftermath serve as sobering reminders that even today, some remain who would use violence and hate to divide us. We must never relent in working toward a future built not on what divides us, but what unites us.

The governor would never try to talk anyone out of their reaction to any piece of art, political or nonpolitical, right or left, good or bad. Those reactions deserve respect on their own terms.

The governor has great respect for the black caucus and members of the General Assembly who voiced concerns about the cartoon. The governor’s office has also heard from members of the black community who found truth in the imagery and do not find the cartoon offensive. Here is where things stand: The cartoon was removed days ago. And the governor – as a white male – does not have anything more to add to the discussion.

The fixation on this cartoon and the governor’s opinion of it has been disappointing. What the media and political class should be concerned about is ensuring schools open on time and stay open with a fair funding formula. Now is the time to come together to do what’s right for all of Illinois’ children.

The IPI – the group Rauner used to fill key positions, including his chief of staff Kristina Rasmussen, during his recent staff overhaul – has maintained that the cartoon was meant to be a commentary on TIF, or tax increment financing, districts in Chicago, which have become an issue in the ongoing school funding battle in Springfield.

Nevertheless, the IPI removed the cartoon from its website, refusing to offer an apology and instead choosing to “acknowledge [lawmakers’] critique” but ultimately stand by the image.

Published 2 hours ago


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