Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner won’t raise your income tax next year.
Or maybe he will.
Ultimately, Rauner on Monday wouldn’t commit to how he would handle the state’s income tax, even as he warned at the Illinois Farm Bureau that there’s plenty of pain in Illinois’ future.
“I’m not going to be Mr. Popularity for a while,” he said during an event at the Palmer House Hilton.
In a Q&A with the media, Rauner said all of his recent dooms-day talk about Illinois’ budget is not a precursor to a push for a tax increase.
“I’m not saying that at all. I think it’s important for voters to understand exactly what’s going on,” Rauner said. “Our politicians have been making short-term borrowing to fill budget gaps. We are going to have honest budgets going forward.”
Rauner faces a budget hole of more than $4 billion in 2015 when the temporary income tax hike rolls back from 5 percent to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1. Gov. Quinn had proposed a budget in March that would have extended the 5 percent tax, saying it was needed to avoid severe cuts in education and other services. Rauner, whose post-election mantra is “compassionate and competitive,” had hammered Quinn over the tax increase throughout the brutal campaign.
On Monday, when pressed on where he believes the income tax would stand next year, Rauner at first said his administration would work within the 3.75 percent tax.
“As I’ve said, we want to roll the income tax hike all the way back down to where it was in 2010. We’ll work that over time, and right now the law is 3.75, and that’s what we’re going to manage with.”
When asked if that meant he was committed to 3.75 tax, Rauner hedged, saying, “Nothing will be off the table.”
“Well, 3.75 is the law. But I will also say this: everything will be assessed as an opportunity to getting our economy growing again. Everything will be assessed as a way to get back into a healthy, fiscal position. Nothing will be off the table,” Rauner said.
“But 3.75 is the law. I’m going to implement the law, we have to plan for that. And the critical thing is over time we get the income tax burden reasonable, and the real challenge and the real answer for revenue in the future is to become a growth state again. We got into this mess by only thinking short-term. Let’s talk about short-term but let’s also talk about long-term competitiveness.”
Rauner has proposed adding a tax to some services in Illinois.