Fact-Check Friday: Rauner Resurrects 2014 Campaign Theme vs. Democrats

This article was created for PolitiFact Illinois, a collaboration between Reboot Illinois and Pulitzer Prize-winning national website PolitiFact. For additional fact checks in this partnership, visit the PolitiFact Illinois website.

In August 2014, as the race between former Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner hit full throttle, no issue was more hotly contested than Rauner's charge that Quinn had reduced spending on K-12 education as state finances spiraled ever-downward under his leadership.

Specifically, the Rauner campaign cited Illinois State Board of Education data that showed school funding going from $7.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2009 to $6.8 billion in FY 2015. Rauner said that amounted to a $600 million reduction. Quinn, however, said his administration actually increased state-level funding during that time by $442 million.

Whether school funding increased or decreased from FY 2009 to FY 2015 depended on whether you counted $1.8 billion in federal economic stimulus money in your calculation. Rauner did, Quinn didn't. The issue never was settled, and seemed to disappear after Rauner defeated Quinn in the 2014 election.

Then came Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 17. Rauner is not up for election this year, but his legislative agenda is. His campaign fund in recent weeks has given $10 million to the Illinois Republican Party to support GOP candidates who are running against what Rauner describes as a "corrupt machine" run by Democrats. Throughout the summer, Rauner has revived some of the themes that were a big part of his own, successful campaign two years ago.

As he rallied the Republican faithful at the fairgrounds for the final charge to Election Day, Rauner reached back into his 2014 campaign quiver for another shot at Democrats' stewardship of school funding in Illinois.

"They are strangling our state. They are driving jobs away. They are raising your taxes to the highest property taxes in America. They are building massive government bureaucracy everywhere, crushing our economy," Rauner told an enthusiastic crowd. "They are cutting our school funding. Four times in the last 10 years before we came into office."

So here we are again, almost exactly two years from when this debate first erupted, only this time the argument is expanded to include all Illinois Democrats and narrowed to "four times" that they cut school funding. We decided to dig back in and find out if it's true.

Here's how Rauner's claim rates on the Truth-O-Meter.