EDITOR'S NOTE: The Daily Herald asked the two major-party candidates for Illinois governor to provide essays outlining their economic proposals for the next four years. The columns ran side by side in print editions of the Daily Herald on Thursday, Aug. 28. Here is the essay provided by Republican Bruce Rauner.
It hasn't been an easy five years for the people of Illinois.
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Pat Quinn promised to make things better for you and your family. He promised to create jobs, invest in schools and end the culture of corruption that landed his two predecessors in federal prison. But Pat Quinn didn't keep his promises.
Instead of delivering jobs and quality education, Quinn delivered record tax hikes, high unemployment, massive education cuts and lower take-home pay. Instead of reform, Quinn spent five years preserving a broken system and now finds himself under federal investigation.
It's time to shake things up in Springfield.
Over the summer, I presented a series of structural reforms that, taken together, will transform our state.
To get there, we need to make major changes to our tax and regulatory structures -- and we need to invest in innovation, workforce development and small businesses of all kinds. If we fundamentally shake up our state's jobs climate, we can bring back Illinois.
That starts with rolling back the Quinn-Madigan 67-percent tax hike over the next four years -- lowering your state income tax from 5 percent to 3 percent. Pat Quinn's tax hike costs the average family more than $1,000 every year. But the true cost is even worse.
Despite the damage already done, Pat Quinn wants to break his promise and make his tax hike permanent. That's the wrong approach. We need to get rid of the Quinn-Madigan tax hike and I'll get that done in my first term.
No tax hurts middle class families more than our out-of-control property taxes. Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the country -- and they've gone up under Quinn. In many cases, homeowners have seen their property taxes rise even as their home values fall. That's outrageous, and Pat Quinn has done nothing to stop it.
Homeowners bear the majority of the property tax burden in Illinois. In 2012, residential property taxes topped $17.5 billion. According to the Tax Policy Center, the average homeowner in Illinois pays more than $4,400 in property taxes each year.
We need a property tax freeze that protects and empowers homeowners. Before any community increases property taxes, homeowners deserve a detailed explanation as to how the money will be spent and the opportunity to approve or disapprove at the ballot box. My administration will stand for a simple principle: no more property tax hikes without taxpayer approval.
We'll also do much more to put the interests of hardworking families ahead of the special interests. We'll close tax loopholes for Big Oil, racehorses, jet planes and yachts. We'll end Pat Quinn's taxpayer handouts to companies that lay off workers. I will veto special insider tax deals that funnel your taxpayer dollars to a select few corporations. And we'll modernize the sales tax. It doesn't make sense that luxury items like charter jet services are untaxed while you pay sales tax on necessities like clothes, shoes and furniture. I'll protect middle class families.
It's no surprise the political insiders and career politicians in charge of Springfield oppose our plan. They know the days of special deals are coming to an end. And they're even more afraid of our term limits initiative that puts you, the people, back in control of state government. Term limits will encourage a citizen legislature. Pat Quinn and Mike Madigan oppose our term limits initiative but I know you, the people, strongly support it.
When I'm governor, we'll root out waste and reform our broken and outdated systems of government. We'll make Springfield more transparent and accountable -- eliminating political slush funds and restricting outside employment of legislative leaders. We'll consolidate local governments, merge the offices of treasurer and comptroller, overhaul the government procurement process and ensure our social safety nets serve the people who need them most.
Unlike Pat Quinn, I'll actually live in Springfield -- so taxpayers will no longer be forced to subsidize the largest private jet fleet of any state in America -- a fleet I've promised to reduce. I won't take a salary and I won't take a pension. And unlike Pat Quinn, I'm not running just to keep my job; I'm running to make sure you can always find one.
Now, you and I both know that none of this will be easy. Pat Quinn and Mike Madigan dug a hole and kept on digging. But I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and work with anyone in this state who shares my vision for a booming economy where taxes are low and job opportunities are high -- where our children receive a world class education and world class job opportunities after that.
Time is running out. We need to shake things up before it's too late. In November we'll change direction -- and then we'll get to work.
Bruce Rauner is the Republican nominee for Illinois Governor.