Gov. Bruce Rauner is riding his Harley and running for re-election.
In his campaign kickoff video, Rauner states he’s going to fight for Illinois, even if people say it’s crazy to take on Mike Madigan and political corruption in Springfield. Rauner has the words governor printed on his motorcycle vest and the sleeve of his sweatshirt, apparently to remind him that he has the title, even if Madigan has the power.
Listening to Rauner’s voice-over on the video, it’s almost as if we’re back in 2014, before Rauner spent two years in office refusing to agree to any budget deal, before he vetoed the budget the Democrats passed, before the financial ratings agencies threatened to turn Illinois bonds into junk and he finally saw the light.
That’s what Rauner did as governor.
He did not get term limits passed, as he had promised.
He did not get homeowners any property tax relief, which he also had promised.
He did not end the gerrymandering of legislative districts or solve the state’s massive pension fund debt.
That evil Michael Madigan fellow, he actually rescued the state financially by signing off on an income tax increase. Rauner couldn’t stop that, but he’s willing to take credit for the financial windfall, while ripping Madigan.
Even before his re-election video aired, he was bragging in a TV commercial about increasing the state’s education funding to record levels. That wouldn’t have been possible without that income tax hike.
Rauner doesn’t expect people to make the connection.
He’s going to claim he helped the school kids of this state by signing off on a historic school funding reform bill and is Mr. Public Education.
Every politician in Illinois uses the school kids of this state like toilet paper, so Rauner isn’t unique. He’s just the latest in a long line of Democrats and Republicans who have misled voters.
There is no guarantee that there will be enough money to make that school funding reform bill work four years from now, but that doesn’t matter. The gubernatorial election will be over.
Once upon a time, legislators said it would take a 2 percent income tax hike dedicated to public education to straighten out this state’s school funding problem. Madigan didn’t like that idea so he didn’t even call the bill for a vote.
That tax-hike plan would not only have funded the schools, but generated a pile of cash to create genuine property tax relief.
Rauner is still saying he wants property tax relief, but won’t say how that could happen.
On average, 67 cents of every dollar of your property tax bill goes to your local school districts. The state has the “primary responsibility” for funding the public schools under the Illinois Constitution, but in fiscal year 2016 (the last year posted on the state board of education’s website) it contributed less than 25 percent of the money.
That number is likely to go up slightly for fiscal year 2018, but you would think the state’s dismal failure to be the primary source of financial help to the schools would be enough to stop any governor or state legislator from bragging.
If you freeze property taxes or cut them without providing a dedicated stream of new revenue from the state, you’re undercutting the ability of local school districts to manage their own budgets. That’s what the governor is proposing, although he still hasn’t figured out a way to balance the state’s budget.
There isn’t a single candidate likely to tell anyone the truth about school funding in Illinois. Just as the state has failed to fund the pension systems, it has failed to adequately fund the schools.
Rauner’s riding his Harley in the video, but it would be nice if he got off his high horse at some point and actually solved some of the state’s problems.
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