DeKALB – In a visit Tuesday to DeKalb, Democratic lieutenant-governor candidate Paul Vallas blasted Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's budget plan, saying it would result in a $7.9 billion budget hole and drastic cuts to education.
“This is moving in the wrong direction at breakneck speed,” Vallas said.
Meanwhile, Rauner's spokesman said the plan to roll the income tax rate back, freeze property taxes and impose new sales taxes on some services would expand the state's economy.
Vallas, speaking to about 10 people at Northern Illinois University's Holmes Student Center, bashed the proposal, saying it would leave the state with a $7.9 billion hole in it's $35 billion spending plan. Of that, Vallas argued about $4 billion would have to be cut from education funding, affecting local school districts, community colleges and state universities including NIU. The rest, he said, would come from human services and public safety.
“This is fundamentally dishonest at the end of the day,” Vallas said. “We've been asking for a plan for 500 days, and we finally got it and it's a doozy. And it doesn't work. It doesn't even come close to working.”
Rauner's plan, which he unveiled last week, includes reducing the income tax to 3 percent over the next four years, seeking legislation to freeze property tax rates and require voter approval for new property tax hikes.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who Rauner is challenging in the November election, has pushed to maintain the state's 5 percent income tax rate, which he and fellow Democrats increased from 3 percent in 2011. The rate is scheduled to roll back to 3.75 percent Jan. 1, but Quinn and some Democrats want to make the increase permanent to avoid billions of dollars in cuts. Vallas said this plan would invest $6 billion in education.
Rauner's plan also would add a 5 percent tax to some services such as golf memberships, charter flights, ministorage and sewers. Altogether, the 5 percent tax would generate about $600 million in new revenue, Rauner's camp estimates.
Without new revenue the next governor is expected to face a $4.4 billion budget hole.
Rauner was unavailable to respond to Vallas' criticisms Tuesday. In an emailed response, his spokesman Mike Schrimpf maintained Rauner's plan would fix Illinois's economy, which he called one of the worst in the nation.
“The answer to our long-term fiscal problems is to expand Illinois' economy,” Schrimpf wrote. “That's the focus of Bruce's plan and that's what it will do.”
Rauner's plan also calls for reforming worker's compensation premiums, expanding technical and vocational training. With those business reforms, Rauner also supported phasing in an increase to Illinois' $8.25 minimum wage, a turnaround from a statement he made early in the Republican primary when he said he wanted to lower the minimum wage. Rauner has since said he does not want to lower minimum wage.
Quinn has asked lawmakers to increase the minimum wage to $10 by the end of the year.