IFT response to Governor Rauner’s irresponsible budget address

by Beth Camplain | Feb 18, 2015
In response to Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget address today, IFT President Dan Montgomery released the following statement.

February 18, 2015

SPRINGFIELD – In response to Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget address today, IFT President Dan Montgomery released the following:

Rather than address revenue in a responsible way, today Governor Rauner recommended decimating public services for middle class families in order to pay for massive tax breaks for the very wealthy.

Reported cuts to higher education resulting in higher tuition.
Unconstitutional gutting of pension funding.
Slashing health insurance for retired teachers.
Eliminating the social service net for foster children, the homeless, developmentally disabled, and mentally ill.

These are all of the things Governor Rauner would do before asking the richest 1% or corporations to pay a penny more.

It’s not only unconscionable; much of it is illegal.

We need responsible government that serves everyone, not austerity for working families and tax savings for the rich. The Governor’s suggestion that this is the only option is patently false.

And since he is so eager to talk about "fair share,” we’d suggest the Governor accept the crystal clear mandate sent to him by an overwhelming majority of voters and demand that millionaires pay their fair share to bring an extra $1 billion into our schools. We’d encourage the Governor to ask the 70% of Illinois companies who pay no income tax to pay their fair share. We’d close the loopholes that currently allow corporations to enjoy $2 billion in tax giveaways while working families and our most vulnerable citizens shoulder an unfair share of the burden.

Even while balancing the budget on the backs of local communities and the middle class, Governor Rauner is painting a false picture of education funding. His proposal to "increase funding" is achieved only by folding in line-item appropriations already in the State Board of Education’s budget. What’s more, his plan still doesn’t meet the recommended minimum level needed to educate our children.

It’s a disingenuous shell game.

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Immediately following the Governor's budget address,Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan issued this statement reflecting the deep cuts Rauner is proposing:

“After more than a year, the citizens of this state finally heard from Gov. Rauner concerning our state’s financial challenges. It is clear his solutions are to simply cut deeply into programs that ensure the economic security of the state’s middle class. As other states have found out, slash and burn budgeting is short-sighted and dangerous.

“He has spent much of his first few weeks on a right-wing, ideological binge, attempting to make his case slashing modest programs boosting injured and unemployed workers, dropping local wage and benefit standards, and attacking state workers and their unions. While this may be a political message he wants to send, it is not constructive in solving our state’s financial woes. These proposals do little to improve our state finances, but will certainly undermine middle class economic security. His budget proposal sticks to this script.

“We have a revenue problem that needs to be addressed. The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability issued a report yesterday showing how the phase down of the personal income tax disproportionately benefits the highest income earners and creates more income inequality in Illinois.

“The Governor is also silent on the 70 percent of companies that pay no corporate income tax and more than one billion in corporate tax breaks that cost our citizens each year. Now is the time for real solutions, not political rhetoric.”

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The We Are One Illinois coalition of unions that represent public employees issued this statement:

"Under his proposed cuts to pensions earned and paid into by teachers, caregivers, correctional officers and other public employees, Gov. Rauner would rob the retirement security of those who dedicate their lives to public service—most of whom aren't eligible for Social Security, many of whom risk their physical safety to serve.

"These unfair cuts are clearly in violation of the plain language of the constitutional pension clause.

"Besides being illegal, forcing employees into the lower 'Tier 2' or a private Wall Street account would likely require adding Social Security eligibility—making this proposal even more costly to the state than the current pension plan.

"Instead of inviting further litigation with clearly illegal schemes to strip the life savings of working people—and delaying real budget solutions with illusory savings from those illegal schemes—the governor should work with our coalition and lawmakers to develop a fair and constitutional approach to restoring fiscal soundness to state retirement funds." 

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The Illinois Federation of Teachers represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.