Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Local educators respond to IL governor's budget proposal

Local educators respond to IL governor's budget proposal Local educators respond to IL governor's budget proposal
Nellie Chapman | 16 February, 2018, 01:52

The governor's budget calls for boosting funding for education by $556 million, with about $350 million of that going toward the new funding formula that was enacted previous year.

In his speech to lawmakers Wednesday, Rauner toned down his rhetoric. "The people of IL are taxed out".

"We should take the big step, and do what taxpayers have urged us to do for a decade: Enact comprehensive pension reform and give IL taxpayers a almost $1 billion tax cut", Rauner said.

Notice, however, that he said "the end of this session". "If we don't, our finances will continue to deteriorate, our economy will remain sluggish and our tax burdens will stay high and keep rising".

Besides again advocating for a constitutionally questionable overhaul of employee pensions, Rauner told lawmakers during a budget address that he wants to shift retirement costs to local school districts and dictate health insurance benefits for state workers. But the plan - and tax cut - could be delayed for years while they're challenged in court.

"Our budget proposal is a framework that balances the interests of those who spend our taxes with those who pay the taxes".

State officials said the goal is to reduce the current personal income rate of 4.95% to 4.7 %.

The pension idea was floated several years ago by Rauner's political nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Republican lawmakers from Southern Illinois say they're pleased with the proposal, which includes funding for a river terminal in Cairo.

"Throughout Governor Rauner's time in office, progress has been made only when legislators agreed to work together without him", Harris said. Universities would get $205 million to offset the pension/healthcare cost shift and further savings could be achieved to offset the loss by more "flexibility" in contracting, bidding, and sharing services, some measures unions are likely to fight.

"This would literally rewrite the school funding reform law".

"I looked at the budget address as a call to take ownership and come up with solutions that we can live with", Pritchard said.

Wheeler said it was dishonest to promise universities an increase in appropriations while expecting them to make up for the dollars they will not receive in the pension fund. "It threatens us to go along with his cost-shifting schemes, or add more than $1 billion to our debt", Biss said in the release. It was trimmed to a current level of $8.9 billion from a record $16 billion due to the two-year budget impasse through $6 billion of borrowing late last year. "But I'm hopeful there will not be", Currie said.

Charlie Wheeler, the director of the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois - Springfield, said the difficulty is figuring how the universities will be able to afford picking up the pension costs, which he said is not possible.

The plan also authorizes $100 million in new funding for deferred maintenance and repairs at state colleges and universities and $500 million for the Discovery Partners Institute at the University of IL. "That would shift those pension obligations onto local property taxpayers".

"That's where we're going to have a very lengthy and contentious debate", Brady said.

Governor Bruce Rauner will outline his budget proposal for the new fiscal year in his annual address Wednesday.

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