Illinois Governor was quick to sign that $38 billion budget fueled by a $5 billion tax hike Rauner opposed last year. Whew, that was quick!

Not so fast, Governor. Not so fast.

During a press conference, a reporter called out Rauner asking him if he was being disingenuous about signing the $38.5 billion-dollar budget. Voters should remember that Rauner-backed Republican members of the Illinois General Assembly backed the tax hike and helped Democrats override Rauner’s veto.

Some have argued – including Real GOP Illinois – that Republicans were giving Rauner cover on the unpopular tax hike.

REPORTER: “You just signed a budget that spends the money from the tax increase that you opposed. Over the summer we’re moving into a campaign season. Are you going to out there on the campaign trail and tell people that you object to this tax increase that you’re approving the spending on?”

RAUNER: “Absolutely.”

REPORTER: “Isn’t that disingenuous?”

RAUNER: “Not at all. If we introduced – if we passed a budget that I introduced, the spending plan that I introduced we could begin to roll back that tax hike and we would be running a $1.5 billion surplus in this coming year and we could – “

REPORTER: [INAUDIBLE]

RAUNER: “This is a bipartisan compromise, this is a compromise. It’s not perfect, none of us got everything that we were looking for. This budget does not pay down bills so I was very frustrated. It did not pass the comprehensive pension reform that the Senate Democrats passed last year, we need to do that. It did not get regulatory relief for businesses, and workers comp and other regulations so we can grow more jobs. And most importantly, or I should say maybe very importantly it did not get the mandate relief on our schools, our schools need mandate relief and we need mandate relief on our local government so we can consolidate governments more effectively and efficiently and bring down our tax burden. These are the changes we will continue to strive to make, but this budget for the first time in many years even prior to me being Governor is balanced, through some hard work and some great efforts we will have it balanced and it stops some excessive spending that would have otherwise happened. And it’s a good step in the right direction.”

RAUNER:  I’ll add one other point that I think is salient, if we had passed the budget that I had introduced in February – that I had proposed in February – and then just used the rest of the assumptions and programs that are in this budget we would be running about a $1.5 billion surplus in the coming fiscal year. We could use that for a tax reduction, we could use that to invest more in infrastructure, and we could use that to pay down bills.

Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller said this:

OK, now that’s disingenuous. He [Rauner] talks like $1.5 billion is a huge amount of money that can easily be divvied up for a tax cut, infrastructure and paying off bills. The bill backlog alone will be more than $7 billion at the end of the fiscal year.

A $1.5 billion tax cut would reduce the income rate by 0.375 percentage points. So, instead of a 4.95 personal rate, we’d have a 4.575 rate. Great news! The exodus will surely end! But since much of what they used to “balance” the budget is one-time revenue sources, including borrowing $800 million from special funds for two years and selling the Thompson Center, we’d be in an even worse hole.”

Divide it up three ways and you’d trim the backlog by a mere $500 million, reduce the income tax rate by 0.125 points to 4.825 and have a half a billion left over for capital – and you’d still have a $6.6 billion backlog with even less state money to address it.

Yes, Governor, we think thou dost protest too much.

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