David Vaught’s (pictured) new job makes him smile. In April, he switched from being the state’s budget director to running the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Appearing Thursday at the Downstate Voice economic development conference in Decatur, he said Illinois is filled with success stories, including more activity at the Mitsubishi auto plant in Normal, the Japanese rail-car manufacturer Nippon Sharyo locating in Rochelle, and expansion of the NTN-Bower ball bearing factory in Macomb.
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“Our worst deal right now is our pension system,” he said. That’s what’s dragging us down. We’ve got to address that. It’s something that got ignored, and we didn’t stay up with. We’re behind the eight-ball.” Fielding a question from the audience about the 2011 income tax increase, Vaught said he believes the 2-percentage-point increase was constructed to be a point of debate in the 2014 governor’s race. If that extra tax is to continue, it would take a lawmaker sponsoring a new bill and getting a majority vote. If past is prologue, that vote could be in the middle of the night, hours before a new General Assembly is sworn in on Jan. 14, 2015.