By Scott Reeder -
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Before taking office, Bruce Rauner pledged to lower our income tax rate during his first term.
It was a lie, wrapped in a prevarication, enveloped with deception, packaged in falsehood and bound up with a fabrication.
The people of Illinois have been hoodwinked, fooled and tricked. Again.
We elected a man who is not true to his word. And last week, he said he wants to jack our taxes up from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.
Does Rauner think that five one hundredths of a percentage point shy of 5 percent makes a 32 percent tax hike that much more palatable? If so, Rauner ought to seek a second career in used car sales selling Chevys and Fords for $12,998 apiece.
He ran for office pledging to reduce the state income tax to 3 percent, the rate it was when his predecessor Pat Quinn took office.
Quinn and House Speaker Mike Madigan shoved through a “temporary” tax hike that jacked our taxes up to 5 percent of our income.
Upon Rauner becoming governor, the tax rate dropped to 3.75.
Instead of cutting taxes to 3 percent, as he once promised, he’s now calling for raising our taxes to 4.95 percent
Oh sure, like any self-respecting pol, he’s looking for some political cover. He says he’ll only support the income tax hike, if the Legislature agrees to freeze property taxes for four years.
So, we will have our property taxes frozen at the highest level of any state in the nation and then endure a 32 percent income tax hike on top of that?
Did this plan fall out of the Stupid Tree and hit every branch on the way down?
In addition to freezing our property taxes at the highest level in the nation, the governor says he is ok with a massive income tax hike if the Legislature tweaks the worker’s compensation plan and passes a pension “reform” measure of questionable constitutionality and of little immediate value.
After two years of taking heat from House Speaker Mike Madigan, he’s caved like a wet cardboard box.
Rauner has devolved into one of those spineless creatures that too often inhabit the Illinois statehouse. The convictions that got him elected have become faded memories. He’s on the verge of becoming Madigan’s punk.
He once was a man demanding major league reforms like term limits for politicians, redistricting reform, an overhaul of the state’s worker’s compensation program and true pension reforms.
Now he’ll settle for crumbs.
For more than 700 days Rauner and Madigan have had a stare down over the state budget as the state lurched through a budget crisis.
Madigan wanted a massive tax hike. Rauner, at first, said he didn’t.
Then Rauner said he might “reluctantly” support a tax increase if the Legislature passed significant political and economic reforms.
Madigan would have none of that.
So now Rauner hasn’t just blinked, he’s shut his eyes tight, curled himself into a fetal position and told Madigan and Co. to start kicking.
He’s thrown his convictions aside and said: Let’s just raise taxes.
It would be easy to feel sorry for Rauner if it weren’t for the fact that it will be ordinary Illinoisans who will suffer because of his capitulation.
Cash-strapped families will see their taxes soar, businesses will remain reluctant to locate in an Illinois that they deem unfriendly and our state’s economy will continue to falter.
In other words, it’s not rich Fat Cats, like Rauner, who will suffer because of this change of course. It’s middle-class folks who will see more of their paychecks slipping away to Big Government.
Two years ago, Illinois voters threw Pat Quinn out of office in part because he pushed raising taxes to 5 percent. But at least he was honest about it.
With Bruce Rauner we aren’t even getting that.
Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse journalist. He works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area and produces the podcast Suspect Convictions. He can be reached at ScottReeder1965@gmail.com.