It looks as if Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has campaigned himself into a tight spot. “I wrote a little article (saying that) congratulations or condolences are in order for the new governor,” says Fred Giertz, a University of Illinois economics professor, “because he comes in with a substantial immediate and long-term problem, and if people hold him to the campaign promises, it's going to be even more difficult for him, because he has few degrees of freedom right now. He said he wants to increase education funding and other things and, at the same time, let the income tax (rate) eventually ratchet down.”
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Illinois’ 2011 move to raise the flat income tax rate from 3 to 5 percent expires with the stroke of the New Year, and the rate recedes to 3.75 percent.
“The fact is, in this fiscal year, we’re $2 billion short,” Giertz says. “And even with the tax increase, there will still have to be some pretty substantial cuts made to get the budget back into balance. Or he’ll have to kind of wink and go ahead with some of the things that have been going on for a long time.”