Rauner will end his four years as governor the way he started them by proposing an austerity budget, the major components of which will go no place. Yet it will still cause real harm and worry for tens of thousands of people in Illinois who depend on the state for basic services.
Rauner’s budget includes cuts to programs supporting those with Autism, combatting infant mortality, drug addiction, housing services, immigrant services, community health services and support for infants and children.
The centerpiece of Rauner’s austerity budget is a shift of pension costs from the state to local government and schools districts. Rauner also wants a cut to the partial state subsidy to retiree health care.
Recall that Rauner became governor with a 40 point Turnaround Agenda and a similar austerity budget. Most of the Turnaround Agenda – a mix of anti-union and anti-worker proposals – is in a landfill somewhere in the state.
Recall also that the state had no budget for more than half of Rauner’s first term.
His pension shift won’t happen. Neither will his cut to health insurance subsidies.
The first is not politically sustainable. The second is unconstitutional.
As to the cut to the health care subsidy, the Illinois Supreme Court has already ruled that the pension protection clause protects more than the pension annuity. It protects all “benefits” of membership in a pension system, including health insurance benefits.
As to the pension cost shift. If you believe, as many do, that Illinois’ fundamental revenue problem is its reliance on local property taxes along with a flat income tax, the Rauner’s pension cost shift only makes matters worse.
If you believe that a majority of the members of the Illinois legislature will vote to raise local property taxes in their home districts in order to fund their schools, you’re as nutty as the governor is.