Candidates for Illinois Governor clash in final debate - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Candidates for Illinois Governor clash in final debate

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QUINCY, Ill. -- Less than four weeks until voters head to polls to decide who will be the next governor of Illinois. Gov. Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker squared off Thursday night in the final gubernatorial debate in Quincy. 

In the same city of the debate is the Illinois Veterans Home where 14 residents have died since 2015 from Legionnaire's disease. 

Before the debate, J.B. Pritzker released a new TV commercial showcasing Tim Miller, whose father, Eugene Miller, was one of the veterans who died during the Legionnaire's outbreak. 

"My question to Gov. Rauner is, if it was your parents living at that home, would you have handled it differently," Miller says in the ad. "Would the response time have been quicker? I looked up to my dad a lot, and I loved him."

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has launched a criminal investigation of Rauner and his administration to see how they handled the crisis at the veterans' home. 

Rauner responded to the panel of journalist Thursday night when asked if he did everything he could to protect the veterans. 

"The veterans were evaluated for their health conditions and those who were infected were treated properly," Rauner said. "Everyone else was monitored and the families of those veterans who showed some symptoms were notified immediately."

Pritzker argued back with Rauner's response saying his administration did not act fast enough. 

It was then Pritzker's turn to get called out by the panelist when he did not give an exact answer about his tax plan. 

"Mr. Pritzker, why not give a rate?," mediator Gene Kennedy asked. "We didn't get a rate in the first forum, we didn't get a rate at the second debate and this is your chance, during the last debate, to give us a rate."

Pritzker responded, but not with a number. 

"I want to have Republicans and Democrats at the table to help us determine what the correct rates are," Pritzker said. "Whatever we do, it has to be good for the middle class."

Shortly after, the topic of education came up. Pritzker called out Rauner for voicing his frustration with House Speaker Michael Madigan. 

"The governor made all these promises four years ago," Pritzker said. "He's living in a state of denial and the rest of us are living in the state of Illinois."

Rauner then called out Pritzker for the property tax breaks he owes the state. 

"Four of my nine predecessors as governor went to jail," Rauner said. "Mr. Pritzker has a very good chance of being number five."

And with the topic of violence mentioned multiple times throughout this election season, a question to Pritzker and Rauner, asking what they would do keep crime down. Both candidates did not fully answer the question.

"The largest driver of violence in our neighborhoods is unemployment, lack of economic opportunity," Rauner said. 

"One of the biggest reasons violence increased was the lack of a budget," Pritzker said, "And when you're unwilling to compromise, mental health services are cut."

The final question of the night went to Pritzker. Asking him if he would raise the minimum wage. 

"I want to gradually changed the minimum wage to a living wage, $15," Pritzker said. 

Pritzker commented that if elected, he would raise the wage over the next five years.

A poll released by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute last week shows Pritzker leading Rauner by more than 20 points.

Election day is November 6th. 
 

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