New Rauner Budget Relies On Tax Hike He Opposed

Feb 14, 2018
Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has been campaigning relentlessly against last year’s income tax increase but, in his annual budget address today, he'll call for spending the extra money that rate hike has generated.

Rauner wants more money to go to education and less to be spent on things like prisons and the judiciary.

According to a preview document obtained by public radio, the governor will not call for an immediate rollback of the tax increase.

Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law

A 1917 report conducted on the Illinois pension system revealed bad news. After a pension-focused trip around the globe, with studies on such nations as Great Britain, New Zealand, and Austro-Hungary, it got to the crux of the matter:

Jenna Dooley

A report from Chicago-based nonprofit Truth in Accounting found taxpayers would have to pay more than $45,000 each to cover the state’s unfunded debts. 

The report examined the fiscal year before Illinois entered into the current budget impasse. Sheila Weinberg, the founder of Truth in Accounting, says things have only gotten worse because the state is racking up more debt without a budget.

Weinberg notes taxpayers may be tired of all the bad news, but says they need an accurate picture of the state’s situation.

Springfield may be a desert when it comes to budget deals, but it seemed like there was a small oasis: an agreement between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton on pensions.

They say Illinois could save a billion dollars a year by forcing teachers and state workers to make a choice. Either retire on a higher pensionable salary, or be allowed to receive compounded cost-of-living bumps upon retirement.

During his budget address last week, though, Rauner signaled impatience:

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Little changed about Illinois pensions since the state's high court declared lawmakers' last attempt unconstitutional. But the state's leaders signaled they may be ready to talk about trying again.

“No one wants to talk about it, but we have to.” House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said last week while leaving a private meeting with the governor and other legislative leaders, where Durkin says they had a healthy discussion about pensions. “Unfunded liability continues to grow. We can't lose sight of that. We can get there at some point.”