The Illinois governor’s race on Thursday found each candidate portraying the other as a liar.
Republican Bruce Rauner sent a mascot named “Quinnocchio” to needle Gov. Pat Quinn about Quinn’s call to extend income-tax hikes, but Quinn shot back his foe was spewing “a lot of baloney” on the issue.
The Democratic governor took aim at Rauner in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board after the long-nosed character wore a sign characterizing Quinn as a liar outside an Avondale school the governor was visiting.
“The ultimate broken promise,” is how Rauner’s campaign described Quinn’s tax proposal.
Quinn argued he had been nothing but honest in calling on the General Assembly to make permanent the tax hikes that are supposed to be rolled back at the start of next year.
“I thought it was better to tell the truth about what we needed to do in the future — there’s a choice,” Quinn said. “My budget will maintain the income tax rates, cut the property tax burden, put a much more generous earned income tax credit in the system and keep investing in” education.
Quinn insisted he had always said he would review on “a regular basis” whether the income tax increase should be extended.
“If the tax does expire — the income tax — then Mr. Rauner has to explain how he’s going to make up for the loss of revenue, particularly for our schools.”
In his budget address Wednesday, Quinn proposed keeping the individual income-tax rate that went to 5 percent from 3 percent in 2011, as well as the rate for businesses, which went to 7 percent from 4.8 percent.
To offset that financial pain, Quinn is proposing increasing the amount most homeowners get through a state property-tax credit. Homeowners on average now get $247 through the 5 percent credit; Quinn plans to make that payment a flat $500 — a move he says would benefit more than 92 percent of homeowners statewide.
The governor said those moves would boost education funding by $6 billion and end Illinois’ reliance on using local property taxes to fund schools.
Rauner’s camp sent out an email accusing Quinn of a series of broken promises, including cutting elementary and secondary education funding by more than $600 million.
But Quinn blasted Rauner’s assertion that the state’s budget can still be balanced — and education adequately funded — without extending the income tax increases.
“My opponent is going around and saying tax less, spend less and we’re going to learn more. That’s a lot of baloney.”
On other budget matters, Quinn said:
■ He’d like to finance a new statewide construction program for roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects by closing corporate tax loopholes. He said he plans to present lawmakers with a list of tax laws for businesses “that I think are loopholes that don’t produce jobs for our state” in hopes of generating money for such projects.
“A lot of the corporations would much rather have us build infrastructure than anything else,” he added.
■ Quinn said House Speaker Michael Madigan’s proposal to impose a 3-percent surcharge on nearly 14,000 Illinoisans with annual incomes of $1 million or more to generate $1 billion for schools is “worth considering.”
But he stopped short of endorsing it, noting that if lawmakers approve the plan, it would bypass him and go before voters in the form of a constitutional amendment. “Anything like that, the voters have to make the final call,” he said.
Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick