Mayors continue fight against Rauner cuts

Lawmakers have about a month to go before their deadline to make a state budget, and suburban mayors took to Springfield Wednesday to try to preserve their towns' funding.

At issue is Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to cut municipalities' share of the state income tax in half.

The Capitol now is the site of dozens of interests all pleading to avoid cuts. On Wednesday, mayors were competing for attention with transit advocates and the hospital industry, among others.

Barrington Mayor Karen Darch said income taxes shouldn't be viewed as solely state money. The state collects a portion of the taxes for municipalities, Darch said, and shouldn't be able to dip into it. That's one reason the mayors' pitch should be seen as different, she said.

"We represent, as mayors, every resident in Illinois," she said.

Rauner told reporters Tuesday he's met with "hundreds of mayors" since taking office.

"The message I've brought to mayors in our turnaround agenda is we are going to make it much easier for cities to balance budgets and have rational competitive tax structure because we're going to allow you to control what gets collectively bargained," Rauner said.

That agenda includes removing union constraints and changing laws to make life easier for Illinois businesses.

"I readily acknowledge we can't balance the budget on the backs of our cities," Rauner said. "The reality though is, we've got to bring fiscal discipline, and that means cuts in a lot of places where I'd rather not have cuts."

State Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat and top budget negotiator, said lawmakers should weigh whether cities get their money automatically. After all, he argued, other areas of the state budget are analyzed every year.

"Does every single municipality spend the money wisely?" Kotowski said. "Effectively?"

• Daily Herald staff writer Erin Hegarty contributed to this report.

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