Lawmakers find markers in Rauner’s statements on ‘grand bargain’


Illinois state lawmakers are getting a better idea of where Gov. Bruce Rauner stands on a package of bills in the state senate that includes economic reforms and tax increases meant to end the impasse.

Rauner said Wednesday during his budget address the state needs “a permanent property tax freeze.”

He said the permanent income tax increase that’s currently being proposed as part of the package needs to be reworked.

“The current Senate proposal calls for a permanent increase in the income tax rate but offers only a temporary property tax freeze in exchange,” he said. “That’s just not fair to hardworking taxpayers across the state.”

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said the governor seemed to throw buckets of cold water on the package being considered by state senators.

“I think that process needs to be allowed to work out,” she said. “If it’s true that that’s the only way that we can get something going, then let it happen.”

Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, interpreted Rauner’s statement differently saying it provided leadership where it’s needed most. “The Senate package isn’t done.”

“It continues to be negotiated, and part of the reason we haven’t had Republican votes on any of it yet is because we haven’t agreed with what’s there,” Barickman said. “We’ve got more work to do on workers’ comp, spending levels, the education funding formula, etc.”

Rauner said Wednesday whatever ultimately comes together needs to be a good deal for taxpayers.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, echoed the governor’s remarks.

“He’s talking about showing that we’ve cut and saved money everywhere we could, now we need some additional revenue, but along with that revenue comes property tax freezes, which is helpful to so many families back home,” Syverson said. “So it’s a balanced approach, but we have to keep taxpayers in mind.”

Rauner also discussed the proposed expansion of sales taxes.

“We cannot raise taxes on people’s groceries and medicine — just as we cannot tax people’s retirement incomes,” he said. “We can find a way to balance the budget without hurting lower-income families and fixed-income seniors.”

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Chicago, said it’s good to know where Rauner stands.

“He did seem to set some markers, which is good for the Senate to know what he would and wouldn’t sign,” he said.

Senators are back in session Thursday.