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Republicans 'coming around' to Rauner

Bivins, Demmer warn of 6-month budget in spring session

DIXON – Bruce Rauner didn’t have the endorsement of either state Sen. Tim Bivins or Rep. Tom Demmer in last month’s Republican Party gubernatorial primary.

But Rauner will have their support when he challenges Gov. Pat Quinn in the general election Nov. 4.

“Even if you didn’t support Bruce Rauner in the primary, he’s the clear choice in November,” said Demmer, a Republican from Dixon.

Demmer said he thinks “quite a few people are coming around to” Rauner in the party after the hard-fought primary campaign, which included some sharp attacks on the wealthy businessman from Winnetka.

Demmer and Bivins met Wednesday in Dixon with members of the Sauk Valley Media editorial board. They were asked what people could expect during the spring legislative session, which resumes Tuesday and ends May 31.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of activity,” Bivins, R-Dixon, said. “Most of the big-ticket items were dealt with last year.”

But a budget must be passed, and Quinn’s proposal lingers to make permanent a temporary income tax increase of 67 percent.

“There’s going to be pressure to say, ‘Let’s just do a 6-month budget,’” Demmer said.

That, he said, would delay tough fiscal decisions to the end of the year, when a number of lawmakers will be at the end of their terms because of retirement or election defeat.

“That is a dangerous, dangerous situation to be in,” Demmer said. “We’ve got to pay close attention to that and understand the delay could be because of the idea of getting lame ducks to vote for something they might not otherwise vote for.”

The 2015 fiscal year will begin July 1. Quinn last month proposed that a temporary income tax increase passed in 2011 be made permanent. The increase of 67 percent on individuals and 46 percent on businesses is scheduled to start sunsetting Jan. 1.

Bivins said Quinn’s proposal likely would pass in the Senate, even though “in an election year, it makes a lot of people nervous.”

In the House, however, “it’s not a done deal to reach that 60” votes needed for passage, Demmer said, despite Democrats having a 71-47 majority.

A proposal to dramatically overhaul the state’s school funding formula isn’t likely to pass either, Bivins said.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar, is intended to allocate more money to poorer districts. But, Bivins said, “[Manar] can’t even explain it.”

“If you dig into it, it doesn’t really change all that much,” Bivins said.

Demmer also is skeptical.

“I think we need to see what it does to school districts in our area,” he said.

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