Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner announced details of his job growth and tax reform plan at a Schaumburg business Thursday, including a proposal to require voter approval before any local government can raise its property tax.
Rauner outlined his plan to phase out the January 2011 income tax increase over four years, reform business taxes and fees, phase in an increase of the minimum wage up to $10 per hour and make changes to workers' compensation policies. The income tax rate was increased to 5 percent from 3 percent under Gov. Pat Quinn.
"The sad truth is that manufacturers and job creators of all kinds are suffering under Pat Quinn," Rauner said. "He is failing on jobs creation. He is failing on growth."
He called Quinn's plan to add 75,000 jobs weak, saying it would take the state's manufacturing economy only back to where it was in November 2008.
Rauner, who spoke at Quality Float Works, was endorsed by that 99-year-old company and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association.
Rauner's running mate, lieutenant governor candidate and Wheaton city councilwoman Evelyn Sanguinetti, said a property tax freeze is necessary because families already struggling from a weak economy need time to catch up.
"They're drowning," Sanguinetti said.
Overriding local governments' home rule authority and requiring voter approval of property tax increases would need new legislation, but Rauner said he believes it can be easily done.
"We should have no more property tax hikes without voter approval," Rauner said.
But Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson questioned such a proposed reduction in local control coming from a stated advocate of small government. "That would never get done," he said of its likelihood of succeeding in Springfield. He said Schaumburg doesn't plan to raise its tax levy.
Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said that "magic bullets" are proposed during every election cycle, but the reality is that union employees, binding arbitration and fixed costs leave local governments with certain financial obligations. The village Estates has reduced its workforce by 60 people, but costs still rise, he said.
Barrington Unit District 220 board President Brian Battle said property tax increases for homeowners are also caused by shifts in the property tax burden when large businesses successfully appeal their assessments and tax bills. But Battle added that making Illinois more business friendly is a goal he can agree with.
Based on the philosophy that it's better to tax nonessentials than necessities like clothes, shoes and furniture, Rauner also outlined a plan to generate more than $600 million in sales tax by beginning to tax a variety of services. These include storage units, janitorial services, attorneys, marketing consultant services, golf club memberships, overnight trailer park parking, printing, public relations, travel agencies and many more.
Quinn called Rauner's plan "a dumb idea" that would hurt everyday people during an appearance Thursday in Chicago to announce he's expanding a job-training program.
And Brooke Anderson, communications director of Quinn's election committee, issued a statement saying that under the plan, Illinois would face a nearly $10 billion budget hole next fiscal year, "which would cause radical cuts to education, public safety and health care services. Even according to his own pamphlet, the Rauner Tax adds up to just $577 million."
The income tax increase approved by Quinn brings the state nearly $8 billion per year.
Anderson added that the plan adds up to little more than the self-interest of a billionaire. "Only someone with nine homes would propose taxing trailer parks," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.