Rauner: Examine state's tax structure overall

CHAMPAIGN — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner said Friday he'd support rolling back state income tax rates to 2010 levels, and favors a comprehensive look at all state taxes, including sales and gas taxes.

But Rauner did not rule out tax increases, saying only that "the overall tax burden has got to come down, the overall spending has to come down."

He made his remarks in a campaign stop Friday afternoon at Merry Ann's Diner in downtown Champaign. About 50 people attended the one-hour event, part of Rauner's "Shake Up Springfield" bus tour through downstate Illinois.

A 67 percent individual income tax increase, approved by Democratic lawmakers in January 2011, is scheduled to drop back from 5 percent to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1, 2015. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's administration has projected that the rollback would mean $1.3 billion less in revenue in the state's next fiscal year, and more than $3.6 billion less in the year following.

Rauner said he wants the income tax increase rolled back, a new pension reform plan beyond the one approved by lawmakers late last year, more budget cuts and a review of all state taxes.

Asked what he'd do about the anticipated billion-dollar-plus hole in next year's budget, Rauner said, "Two things: dramatically reduce the spending by truly fixing the pensions because they have not been fixed. That was a Band-Aid on an open wound and I think there's a decent chance a lot of it becomes thrown out by the court. We need a true pension reform and we need to modify other elements of our spending. It's out of control. We have to plan for that."

Then he called for a review of the state's entire tax structure.

"And we need to look comprehensively at our entire tax code in Illinois. Don't only get caught up in the income tax. Let's look strategically at our entire tax code and our entire tax base: our income tax, our corporate tax, our fuel tax, our sales tax, our real estate tax, our use fees," Rauner said. "We are a tax-happy, fee-happy state and we're not competitive on many of those.

"We should look strategically at our entire tax system and compare ourselves to well-run states that we compete with and how do they handle their taxes, where are their rates and bases? How should we adjust our entire tax system so we're competitive and we're pro-growth. Because the only true answer to solve all of our challenges, the ultimate answer for us, is to become a growth state in Illinois. That's the only real answer."

Later, in response to a second question, Rauner declined to be specific about his tax plan.

"But I can't sit here today and tell you exactly which taxes should be at what rates. We need the overall tax burden down and the overall spending down," he said.

Rauner also admitted he "made a mistake" when he said that Illinois' minimum wage should be cut from $8.25 an hour to $7.25 an hour.

"I am all about increasing competitiveness for the state of Illinois. Illinois today is not competitive. That's why businesses are leaving. That's why we have brutally high unemployment," he said. "And in the context of competitiveness I've made quick, flippant, unilateral comments about lowering the minimum wage in the context of competitiveness. And that's a mistake. It's wrong on my part because there are better ways to increase Illinois' competitiveness."

He said he would support an increase in the national minimum wage (now $7.25 an hour) "so that Illinois' minimum wage rises and we have a level playing field so that all states are the same."

Or, he added, Illinois' minimum wage could be increased in exchange for pro-business measures.

"Another scenario is if we make pro-business changes in our state, change workers comp, change our tort system, change our tax system on our businesses. Then we can put in a higher Illinois minimum wage. We can afford it without killing our small business owners. And I'll support that," he said.

Rauner, who according to tax returns made $53 million in 2012, said he didn't believe he was disconnected from low-income Illinoisans.

"I'm running to increase the incomes for all voters, all citizens in our state, irrespective of income level. My wife and I care deeply. We have been very involved in the community in Illinois and around the city of Chicago," he said. "We are very involved helping to improve the quality of life for low-incme folks and families who are suffering from disadvantage and poverty and tough neighborhoods."

He said he and his wife support charter schools, help provide school vouchers, fund health clinics in Chicago and support a YMCA on the west side of Chicago.

"We are very engaged in improving the quality of life for low-income citizens all across the board. That's a major part of why I'm running," he said.

"People say to me, 'Well Bruce, you don't understand working people because you're rich.' Well you know what? I am rich. But I made it. Nobody gave it to me. I worked my tail off and I'm very successful. And I'm proud of that fact. I'm never going to apologize for it.

"Let me be clear: free market capitalism is the Number One engine of prosperity ever devised by mankind."

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moderndaycowboy wrote on January 10, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Of course he's connected to low income Illinoisans. Afterall, he is wearing a fleece vest and flannel.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 11, 2014 at 4:01 am

It was appropriate that he held the event in a place that serves pancakes.  Lot of flipping, and flopping in there.  If he made "quick, flippant, unilateral comments about lowering the minimum wage" in another question session, what about his responses to some of the questions during his scheduled visit?  No specifics on taxes, and re-doing "pension reform"?  Yeah... he is a Rich Republican who always wants more.  Check out how he makes his $53,000,000.00 a year.  He has experience dealing with others pensions.   

Political Observer wrote on January 12, 2014 at 2:01 am

There's a very good reason why Bruce Rauner chose one of the Merry Ann's Diner locations as the place to hold his photo-op during his visit to Champaign-Urbana.  It's not a coincidence, you know, that the event happened to be held there...I mean, it's not as though his campaign people threw a dart at a map of Champaign, and then chose whatever place happened to be the closest location to the point where the tip of the dart went through the paper.

No, you see, when candidates for major races do publicity events, their campaign people carefully think through what places would have the greatest overall positive impact for the campaign, what places would provide the best symbolic imagery for the campaign, what places which would feature the most happy, supportive, photogenic faces fawning over the candidate, and additional considerations like that.  We'll give 3 examples of the choice of campaign photo-ops below, of which the Bruce Rauner case will be our Example #3.

Example #1.  When Ronald Reagan began his Presidential Campaign after being selected the nominee of the Republican National Convention in 1980, he chose a location close to Philadelphia, Mississippi as the location for his campaign launch.  Why?  Well, as many political pundits have pointed out over the years, Philadelphia, Mississippi was the place where 3 Civil Rights Workers in the 1960s were dragged from their car and brutally murdered by members and sympathizers of the area chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.  It had been a stronghold area for supporting the George Wallace vote, and one that Richard Milhous Nixon, via his "Southern Strategy," had worked hard to recruit for the Republican Party.  Reagan was there to make sure that the new converts to the Republican Party that Nixon had recruited understood that he, too, had a "States' Rights", "Southern Strategy" and would work just as hard to deserve their votes as Nixon had.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reagan%27s_Neshoba_County_Fair_%22states%27...

Example #2.  Things are much the same in Illinois politics,as well.  For example, it wasn't an accident that Rodney Davis (R-Limbaugh) chose the ACES Library on the University of Illinois campus to launch his re-election campaign, even though a UI Library is an extemely unusual (and most likely illegal, as well) location to hold a partisan political rally...One that was complete with t-shirts, signs, banners, and political endorsement speeches by 3 different elected officials!)  [See Footnotes 1, 2 and 3 below.]

In contrast to Rodney Davis, Erika Harold had earlier announced her primary campaign to oppose Davis for the Republican Congressional nomimation by giving a speech and arranging an event at the entrance to Urbana High School, her alma mater.  Although (unlike Rodney Davis) she had actually graduated from the University of Illinois, she and her campaign advisors were apparently smart enough to realize that there could be quite a few potential ethical problems involved in scheduling a partisan political rally on State of Illinois property.  (Indeed, University of Illinois employees are required to take ethics exams every year, which test their abilities to recognize conflicts of interest and to show that they realize how important it is for individuals to not give the appearance that the University and/or the State of Illinois has endorsed their private business or political interests.)

So there you have it: Erica Harold is a trained lawyer who respects ethics laws, while Rodney Davis, on the other hand, is an opportunist who'll break whatever laws get in his way, in order for him to gain something he might see as a campaign advantage. [See Footnote 4.] In this case, Davis likely feels he has scored a big advantage over Erica Harold with regard to their respective campaign announcements: While Erica Harold had the photo-op and visuals associated with Urbana High School, Rodney Davis pretended to have some connection with Erika Harold's college alma mater, the UI...and is undoubtedly very proud of the superior visuals and the superior prestige of the University of Ilinois he now believes he's associated with, or appears to be associated with.

Example #3.  So why did Bruce Rauner's campaign choose one of the locations of Merry Ann's Diner for his Champaign-Urbana area photo-op?  The key here is that the owner is Tony Pomonis, and Mr. Pomonis has been a big supporter of the Ron Paul campaign.  In fact, when Ron Paul was running for President in 2012, the two main people involved in making the arrangements for his visit to Champaign-Urbana were Tim Johnson and Tony Pomonis, and it was Pomonis' Merry Ann's Diner that once again served as the photo-op location for Ron Paul's visit.

Here's a link to a News-Gazette article where some reader comments following the article develop the connection betweeen Tony Pomonis and the Ron Paul campaign in greater detail:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2012-07-09/champaign-city-council...

So there you have it:  Bruce Rauner sought out a Ron Paul guy to provide him with the visuals and the location he needed for a photo-op.

That's no accident, believe me.  Highly-paid campaign consultants set up the logistics for events like this, and they know who the people are they're dealing with.

==================

Footnote 1:  I haven't made any mention of the 13th Congressional District in connection with the campaign of Rodney Davis, because he seems to have a very strong dislilke for the specific phrase, "13th District," expressing instead a strong preference for the term, "OUR AMERICA."  (This seems to be a very strongly-held "Us vs. Them" belief with him: "THEY" call it the "13th District, while "WE" call it "OUR AMERICA!")  In 2012 he actually went so far as to distribute a campaign flyer explaining his beliefs on the issue, which can be viewed here:

http://www.thereisaway.us/2012/08/rodney-davis-takes-difficult-stand-for...

----------------------------------

Footnote 2:  So what's the relevant State of Illinois Ethics Law that would sanction the Rodney Davis campaign from holding a bona fide partisan campaign rally at a University of Illinois Library?  Well, a number of years back the State of Illinois passed some very strict ethics legislation, which you can find here:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2529&ChapterID=2

and the relevant section of the law states:


 (5 ILCS 430/5-15)
    Sec. 5-15. Prohibited political activities.
    (a)...State employees shall not intentionally misappropriate any State property or resources by engaging in any prohibited political activity for the benefit of any campaign for elective office or any political organization.


----------------------------------

Earlier, in the section of the law where terms are defined, the law specifies that

----------------------------------

"Prohibited political activity" means:

        (1) Preparing for, organizing, or participating in any political meeting, political rally, political demonstration, or other political event.

-----------------------------------
Footnote 3:  There are photos of the apparently-illegal Rodney Davis campaign rally at the URL below, and the issue is also discussed in the reader comments that follow the article:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2013-09-23/davis-formally-announc...

-----------------------------------

Footnote 4:  For a discussion of other cases of Rodney Davis showing a disregard for state law (money laundering) and federal law (violating campaign contributions limits, and then stonewalling the FEC), see:

http://dccc.org/newsroom/entry/congressman_rodney_davis_wont_explain_rol...

Political Observer wrote on January 12, 2014 at 4:01 am

There are some other News-Gazette articles about Rauner that might be worth taking a look at, including this one:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2013-09-18/tom-kacich-rauner-vote...

He sometimes votes in Republican primaries, sometimes votes in Democratic primaries.

He makes large numbers of huge campaign contributions, sometimes to Republicans, sometimes to Democrats.

One common denominator seems to be he seems to really like politicians who hate unions, and are willing to wage war against unions.

Political Observer wrote on January 12, 2014 at 4:01 am

That link also shows that Rauner is very much a Ron Paul type of guy, and a John Birch Society type of guy who says things like:

"We need dramatic transformation, and that's what I'm committed to do," the GOP gubernatorial candidate told Republicans in Ford County earlier this month. "We are the party of America. America was built on limited government, low taxes, individual liberty and personal responsibility. That's what we're about, and we are the party of America."

Translating that into what Rauner would do to Illinois if he were elected Governor, it looks like he'd follow Scott Walker's model in Wisconsin, and transform our state into a "Libertarian Paradise" where the long-suffering rich could finally benefit from the tax cuts they so rightfully and desperately deserve.  

Meanwhile, the pampered peasants would certainly be happy to make sacrifices and accept across-the-board cuts in things like education and other things that benefit their day-to-day lives, while giving up more of what they've selfishly tried to hoard over the years, so that money could flow to the top faster, where it rightfully belongs.  That way, the risk-takers and job-providers at the top would be able to take advantage of the lowered minimum wage to hire more serfs and servants, and everybody would be happy forever and ever!  (Amen!)

That's the theory, anyway...Only extremely radical, right-wing lunacy can save us and make us happy, I guess, at least from Rauner's point of view.

Political Observer wrote on January 12, 2014 at 4:01 am

Here's a direct quote from Rauner, in that article:

"I'm one of the biggest funders of Republicans in this state, by a lot, and the Cato Institute, the Club for Growth, the Americans for Prosperity."

I'm sure most of you know who those last 3 organizations are, but just in case you don't:

1.  The Cato Institute is a Libertarian Think Tank (or many people might say "Stink Tank"...like an intellectual toilet) that has been advocating the privatization of Social Security for decades now, so that people have the "liberty" to gamble away their retirement income in the hopes of hitting a bigger jackpot.  Cato also is always doing studies and advocating anything it can to destroy as many government programs and services as possible, in the interest of extremely limited government.

That's the simple explanation of what Cato is, anyway.  Here's more info about them:
 
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Cato_Institute

2.  The Club for Growth, originally founded by ultra-rotten UI graduate Stephen Moore, became widely known across the US by providing campaign money for ultra-right wing challengers to challenge moderate incumbents in Republican primaries. They were one of the earliest and most significant contributors to the Republican lurch to the far right.

Once again, that's the simple explanation of the Club for Growth.  Here's some more info:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Club_for_growth

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Stephen_Moore

3.  "Americans for Prosperity"

If you loved what Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin and you want to see the same demented damage done here, you can watch Illinois go down the tea party drain when led by Bruce Rauner and funded by David H. Koch and his Americans for Prosperity tea party organization.

Once again, that's the simple explanation of the Americans for Prosperity.  Here's some more info:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Americans_for_Prosperity

Political Observer wrote on January 12, 2014 at 5:01 am

Another article that readers might enjoy is this one:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2013-10-27/tom-kacich-rauner-runs...

It points out that even though Rauner is a multi-millionaire (and I assume could easily self-fund his campaign out of his own massive money vaults), nevertheless massive donations are coming into his campaign fund from all over the United States.

Tom Kacich writes:

--------------------

In the last quarter of fundraising, the wealthy Republican businessman from Chicago reported campaign contributions from donors in 30 states and the District of Columbia. During the period he raised more money from supporters in Connecticut ($13,300) than he did from Champaign-Urbana ($11,800), more money from Nebraska ($10,500) than from Naperville ($6,050).

More than 35 percent of the $3.3 million Rauner has raised this year has come from out of state, including $189,850 from New York, $173,300 from California, $110.900 from Florida and $74,200 from Texas.

It's a stunning amount, unprecedented in an Illinois gubernatorial race, according to Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Political Observer wrote on January 12, 2014 at 5:01 am

And why is all that money for Rauner coming in from out-of-state?  Well, there are a lot of wealthy people who salivate like buzzards waiting for potential prey to be weak enough so that the feasting can begin.

The red states have pretty much been privatized, looted, and stripped to the bone. How many new opportunities still remain, where the buzzards can move in and find great fresh carcasses to feast upon?

 But Illinois is a wealthy blue state, with a lot of life just waiting to be sucked out of it.  With enough money coming in from all over the country, the ultra-rich are hoping a massive media blitz can buy a privatizing pirate like Raunier a seat in the Governor's mansion, and he'll throw open windows all over the state so that his buzzard friends and financiers from all over the country can fly in and feast with him over the fresh corpses of privatized Illinois assets.

Political Observer wrote on January 12, 2014 at 5:01 am

Here's yet another News-Gazette article on Bruce Rauner, with some real gems in it about what the Rauner agenda would look like...(Yeah, Rauner actually comes out and admits what an extremist libertarian he really is.)

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http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2013-02-13/tom-kacich-rauner-late...

But Rauner, who lives in Winnetka, doesn't talk about that [his many campaign donations to both Republicans and Democrats] in his stump speech. Instead, he pounds away at Republican ideals and invokes the names of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

"My goal is to bring discipline and results to government. It doesn't exist in Illinois. Mitch Daniels runs Indiana like a business. Rick Snyder runs Michigan like a business. We need that here in Illinois," Rauner told Champaign County Republicans last week. "We need to deliver value for taxpayers. We need to cut our costs, drive efficiency, drive effectiveness, create the best education system in America. That's what our children deserve. We don't have it in Illinois anymore. We did many years ago."

Rauner's chief issue, up to now, has been support for charter schools and opposition to teacher unions. But he didn't mention either of those topics in his brief speech to the local Republicans.