Gov. Rauner calls for $1B tax cut in State of the Budget - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Gov. Rauner calls for $1B tax cut in State of the Budget

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Gov. Rauner is calling for a nearly $1 billion tax cut and says Illinois will be able to accomplish that with reforms to its pension program, health care, workers' compensation system and the sale of the Thompson Center in Chicago. 

He addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon in his annual State of the Budget speech. He started by taking on the state's pension programs and group health expenses, saying 25 cents of every dollar the state spends goes to pay for those two things.

He says his administration will push to shift the burden of pension costs, saying there is a disconnect between the agencies using the pensions and the state that's paying for them. 

"In our system, the state gets pension bills and just pays the tab," he said. 

Rauner says his administration will ask school districts to begin sharing the cost of their own pensions, making the move over 4 years, in 25 percent increments. By doing this, Rauner says the state will give schools and local governments the tools they need to offset the costs. 

"The tools include increased education funding, the power to dissolve or consolidate units of local government, and more flexibility in contracting, bidding and sharing services," he said. 

He says universities will also be asked to share pension costs and to pick up the health care costs of employees. 

Rauner says the shifts will save the state $696 million this year. 

Rauner also says the state's health care system needs to be fixed, noting the state pays almost 90 percent of the premiums for government employee health insurance policies. 

"State government needs to do what every employer in Illinois has done over the last 10 years: Get its health care costs under control. Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for government health insurance policies that are richer than ones they can afford for themselves." 

He went on to say the state needs to repair its workers' compensation system and sell the Thompson Center in Chicago. 

"These moves, many of which have been supported by the General Assembly in prior years, alleviate a $1.3 billion annual burden on taxpayers, and release money we can then spend on education, public safety, human services and infrastructure in fiscal year 2019." 

Rauner says his FY19 budget will include more money for PreK-12 education, funding for university and community college systems, more resources for veterans programs and the elderly. His budget also calls for $1 billion on child care assistance for families living below the federal poverty line. 

Rauner says along with these priorities, a billion dollar tax cut should be the No. 1 priority by the end of the legislative session. 

"Our budget proposal is a framework that balances the interests of those who spend our taxes with those who pay the taxes. It balances the need for reform with the time we need to implement it, and the tools we need to reduce the associated costs." 

13 News will continue to update this article with reaction from lawmakers across the state and from the Rockford area. 

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