* As we discussed yesterday, Gov. Rauner says he won’t agree to any stopgap budget for the last six months of this fiscal year unless the General Assembly approves a permanent property tax freeze and term limits. Early this morning, Rauner posted a video to his Facebook page explaining himself. Here’s my copy…
“These reforms would let job creators know it is a new day in Illinois, and that long term we’ll be a better place to invest,” Rauner said. “We are at a key turning point in Illinois’ history.”
Madigan has said the governor should drop demands that are not directly related to the budget, and the veteran speaker, first elected in 1970, has long said the state already has term limits in the form of elections.
The Rauner Facebook gambit is a way to try to frame up the final day of the General Assembly’s fall session at a time when both sides have been trying to pin blame on the other for a lack of a full state budget since July 2015 and are doing so again with a stopgap plan about to run out.
While both sides have long said a combination of tax increases and budget cuts will be needed to help balance the books, Madigan tried to flip the script Wednesday. The long-serving speaker suggested the first-term governor’s push for a deal in the coming weeks is an effort to muscle though a tax increase during the lame-duck session — the couple of weeks in January when lawmakers who did not win re-election could take tough votes on their way out the door.
In the 2-minute video, Rauner called Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s refusal to talk about reforms and push for another stopgap budget “unacceptable.” Rauner also brought up Madigan’s comment last December that the state income tax rate should be raised back to at least 5 percent to help balance the state’s finances. Rauner has said he’ll support a tax hike only if it comes alongside reforms.
“More deficit spending would be a failure for the people of Illinois. It would force more job creators out of the state and force an even bigger tax hike in the future,” Rauner said in the video. “I’ve informed the speaker that the only way that I could possibly accept another stopgap spending plan is if we include two powerful bipartisan reforms with it: term limits and a permanent property tax freeze. These two reforms would let job creators know that it it is a new day in Illinois, and that long term, it will be a better place to invest.”
The Rauner-backed bill would freeze property tax levies for all units of government and give communities local control of their property taxes through referendum. More local control of bargaining is one of the governor’s sought-after goals. Under the bill, local communities would be able to control their property taxes directly, the governor’s office said.
The term limits resolution would allow voters to decide in the 2018 election whether to adopt term limits. Legislators would be limited to 10 years of service in the Illinois General Assembly, and Rauner and other constitutional officers would be limited to eight years of service. There are two proposed resolutions, one in the House and one in the Senate.