Rauner opposes taxing retirement income

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday said he is "not a fan" of collecting taxes on Illinoisans' retirement income, an idea that's seen pushback in a stream of radio spots, print ads and robocalls in recent days.

AARP started railing against the idea in ads across the state this week as Rauner and Democrats try to work out a long overdue budget.

"I'm personally not a fan of taxing retirement income," Rauner said.

But also: "The legislature is talking about a lot of different tax reform ideas," he said. "I don't want to jump in early. Some of the things they're recommending, I'll be maybe OK with. Other things I won't be."

A bipartisan group of rank-and-file lawmakers has sent Rauner and legislative leaders a framework including an income tax hike for individuals and a sales tax expansion. That plan hasn't been released publicly, but taxing retirement income wasn't among the details that trickled out.

Those tax increase details haven't exactly been warmly embraced by leaders on both sides, either.

How would it work? No one knows.

No specific plan is being aired in public, which could be a sign a tax on retirement income is not being seriously considered.

Other states do it, but Illinois doesn't tax income from pensions and Social Security, for example.

AARP spokesman Gerardo Cardenas said the ad blitz is an attempt to make sure it stays that way.

As much as a prisoner

Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders stood with a few other suburban officials this week in Springfield to push for a school funding plan that would send more state money to less wealthy schools.

He said he was recently asked how much money would be enough.

"It'll be enough whenever our statistics mirror that of the Department of Corrections," Sanders said.

His district spends about $10,600 per student at a time when the state spends more than $22,000 per prisoner, he said.

Sanders' district would benefit under the plan approved by the Illinois Senate a few weeks ago. But the Illinois House seems unlikely to consider it as members weigh their own ideas.

That conflict means there might not be any changes soon, but some Democrats are inclined to make school funding changes part of an eventual budget deal.

Century mark

State Rep. Carol Sente, a Vernon Hills Democrat, held her 100th coffee with constituents last week at the Corner Bakery in Vernon Hills. How does she know? She keeps careful track of how many she's held, how many people come and what they ask about.

Most recently, Sente says, people want to talk about the politics blocking a state budget.

And when groups of constituents disagree with each other, Sente points out similar differences are why the budget standoff continues.

"It gets people thinking and laughing," she said.

Less food money

Rauner will get a bill on his desk that would prohibit local officials getting their entertainment costs reimbursed with taxpayer money and limit travel expenses.

Both the state House and Senate approved the plan from state Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills and Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park. The idea was inspired by columns from the Daily Herald tax watchdog Jake Griffin.

Pension cuts

State Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo, now a candidate for McHenry County Board chairman, has proposed legislation in Springfield that would keep new county board members - including the chairman or chairwoman - from being eligible for a public pension.

He moved to tack the idea onto a pension plan from state Sen. Pamela Althoff, a McHenry Republican, that already has been approved by the Illinois Senate.

Franks, a Democrat who will face Republican Michael Walkup in November, has announced he won't be running for re-election for his state legislative seat but will finish his term in Springfield.

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