Apparently unrattled by his recent drop in the polls, GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner yesterday declined to offer many new details on how he’d get Illinois back on track, giving himself wiggle room on just about every major financial challenge he would face as governor, including how fast he would phase out Gov. Pat Quinn’s income tax increase.
In an afternoon interview with Crain’s editorial board, the Chicago private-equity mogul time after time repeated the mantra that he wants to lay out only general outlines of how he would proceed if elected, leaving specifics to negotiations with what is likely to remain a Democratic-dominated Legislature.
He was extremely specific that police and firefighters would get only a light version of a pension restructuring during his tenure. And he did offer one brush-back pitch of sorts to Democrats, saying that he already has a team researching how much change he could enact on how own via administrative orders, rather than assembly-passed legislation.
Mr. Rauner described Illinois as overtaxed and overregulated, with a particularly hostile attitude in government toward business. The state “cannot tax its way” out of its fiscal hole but can only improve its standing by growing its economy, he said.
The GOP nominee said his intention remains to repeal entirely within four years the 66 percent hike in the state’s income tax approved under Mr. Quinn.
“I’ve laid out my goal and I want to stick to my proposal,” he put it.
But Mr. Rauner hedged on whether the individual rate, which went from 3 percent to 5 percent, should drop back to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1, as is required under current state law.
“My preference is to let (that partial repeal) proceed,” with the remaining 0.75 percent hike in the individual rate going away by 2018, he said.
PROPERTY TAX FREEZE
Similarly, Mr. Rauner suggested that he is not absolutely wedded to the $577 million annual revenue hike he proposed by extending the state’s sales tax to cover more services. The final figure “could be lower or higher,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of battling. . . .We not keeping our (sales tax) base even with (that in) other states.”
Mr. Rauner also left plenty of bargaining room when asked about his signature proposal to ban any property tax increase that had not been authorized by voters in a referendum.
Asked specifically if he was advocating a freeze on the property tax rate or gross levy — over time, the difference could be dramatic — he replied, “It could be either or both.” More of this BS…