Seven reasons Rauner's budget matters in the suburbs
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget proposal faces a bumpy road ahead as it's weighed by Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly. Still, suburban residents will find a lot of interest in the proposal, and here are some of the key points affecting the suburbs:
1. Rauner wants a cut to the Regional Transportation Authority equal to 4 percent of its overall budget. The agency passes on state funds to Metra, Pace and the CTA, thus cuts could affect service levels and fares. The chairman of the RTA board is former Rauner primary opponent Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale.
2. Mayors will have to watch their budgets. Rauner proposed taking away half of what communities get from the Illinois income tax. That will be millions of dollars for many towns.
3. Rauner wants a big cut to state university budgets. But he left community colleges alone for now.
4. Rauner did not propose extending the state's sales tax to services like attorney fees. He campaigned saying he could back the idea to drive some new money into the budget. His proposal ignores it, but Rauner said he wants lawmakers to make some big changes on state spending before he'll talk taxes.
5. Teachers had been watching the Illinois Supreme Court closely as the justices weigh whether former Gov. Pat Quinn's efforts to cut their retirement benefits will be overturned. Now, they'll have to watch the Capitol, too. Rauner proposed a new, different, pension-cutting idea. He'd put teachers' and state workers' future earnings into a less-generous pension system that new hires are already a part of. Unions say they'd sue immediately if the new plan is put in place.
6. Though the state doesn't have enough money to pay state prison guards through the summer, Rauner's budget would add money to Department of Juvenile Justice youth centers like the ones in St. Charles and Warrenville.
7. Cash for schools is a mixed bag, with Rauner wanting to add more money to the state's general payment for them. But he'd take money away from a couple specific education programs. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says he'd like to revive his so-called millionaire's tax to help pay for schools. It would put an additional 3 percent tax on incomes over $1 million and would require an amendment to the state constitution.