CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner’s inauguration festivities kicked off Sunday night, with a Springfield dinner in his honor.
“Let’s celebrate tonight,” Rauner told nearly 800 guests at the $1,000-a-plate dinner at the Illinois State Capitol rotunda. “Starting tomorrow afternoon and the next day on, the hard work begins.”
Rauner’s inauguration ceremony was scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield. He was set to take the oath of office shortly before noon, along with Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White, Treasurer Mike Frerichs, and Comptroller Leslie Munger, who Rauner appointed to replace the late Judy Baar Topinka.
The inaugural dinner attracted some of his biggest supporters; business owners and executives of major corporations who footed the bill for inaugural events. None of them, Rauner stressed, would be doing business with the state.
“We want don’t want political contributions coming from those types of groups,” Rauner said.
Hours before the dinner, Rauner and his wife, Diana, were in the Uptown neighborhood in Chicago – a sharp contrast to the extravagance in Springfield, as they helped serve meals to the homeless, then talked about how cutting government bureaucracy would leave more money to help those who really need it.
“We could and should combine the comptroller’s office and the treasurer’s office. That looks like it would save at least $12 million a year. How many of these people in need could we support with $12 million a year?” he said.
The comptroller’s office figured in Rauner’s first skirmish with the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, led by House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, who pushed through legislation calling for a special election for the seat in 2016, in the wake of the death of the late Judy Baar Topinka.
Rauner opposed that legislation, which stripped him of the power to appoint someone to serve out all four years of Topinka’s term.
“I look forward to working with Speaker Madigan, and President Cullerton, and everybody in the General Assembly. We need bipartisan legislation,” he said. “I didn’t expect any honeymoon period. This is gonna be a lot of hard work.”
Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich was scheduled to deliver the invocation at Rauner’s inauguration.
“I’m just confident that the people who’ve been elected now want to take up those very serious challenges, much like the serious challenges that I have right now,” Cupich said.
Rauner is the first Republican governor in Illinois since 2003, and will have to work with a legislature controlled by Democrats, who hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers, though by only a single vote in the House.