Last week, Governor Bruce Rauner released a statement outlining his views on Illinois government and our state budget. I agree with the governor on some of the problems the state faces: Our pensions need to be funded and our property taxes are too high.
Unfortunately, we don't begin to agree on solutions.
Let's start with pensions. I voted for a major reform two years ago. The Supreme Court just struck it down, ruling that once someone is hired by the state, pension benefits cannot be diminished.
Yet the governor continues to call for diminished benefits "going forward." We need pension reform, but we'll never get there with a governor who ignores the Constitution, the Supreme Court and reality.
Yes, property taxes are too high. They're also extremely unfair to hard-working families who end up getting hit much harder than the wealthy.
I'm working on a solution to provide tax fairness for the middle class.
My solution is a fair income tax, one where higher rates would apply to higher incomes and lower rates would apply to lower incomes. It's logical and allows middle class families to keep more of their hard-earned money. Nearly every state that borders Illinois already has such a system.
What solutions does the governor offer? None that work for the working families.
He slashes funding for our communities and freezes property taxes. That results in fewer firefighters and police officers, slow snow removal and more pesky potholes.
Illinois deserves better.
It's clear who Gov. Rauner is looking out for, and it's not regular families. Rauner's looking out for his Wall Street friends, the corporate millionaires and billionaires who don't want to pay their fair share.
More alarming is that the governor refuses to move forward on a balanced budget until we approve his agenda. He's holding the entire state hostage until he gets what he wants, and in the meantime he's putting real families and real programs in jeopardy. This isn't leadership. This is bullying.
His plan cripples unions and lowers the wages and benefits of working families.
He wants to make it easier for employers to refuse to pay injured workers.
He wants to make it harder to collect unemployment if your company lays you off.
He wants to keep the minimum wage lower than the cost of living.
That's class warfare, aimed squarely at the middle class. The only people who benefit from Gov. Rauner's agenda are his corporate pals.
I'm willing to work with the governor to balance the budget. What I won't do is dismantle the middle class, no matter what the governor threatens.
The middle class is not a "special interest." The middle class is the key to a healthy, thriving Illinois.
Answer Book 2017
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