CREST HILL – Will County mayors and local officials said Gov. Bruce Rauner asked them to support his Illinois Turnaround plan during a Will County Governmental League luncheon held Thursday in Crest Hill.
They also said he didn’t budge on his plan to take 50 percent of the Local Government Distributive Fund from the state income tax, but he seemed to understand the concerns of local governments.
“I came away with the impression that he understands what we’re saying,” said Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland, who also is president of the Will County Governmental League.
“But he said right now we must implement his entire program, and then he won’t cut as much for us.”
Rauner passed out copies of his turnaround agenda during the luncheon at Giovan’s Restaurant and Pizzeria in Crest Hill and talked about his goals to bring fiscal responsibility back to the state.
“He’s looking for support from municipalities on pieces of legislation he’s going to roll out [Friday],” Joliet City Manager Jim Hock said. “He’s saying, the more I can save in some areas, the less I have to cut in other areas.”
The luncheon was off-limits to the press. And Rauner declined to answer questions as he left the restaurant.
“No gaggling today, but I look forward to seeing you later,” he told a Herald-News reporter while exiting the restaurant.
Several Will County municipalities have been frustrated with Rauner’s plans to cut in half the municipal share of income taxes.
Shorewood trustees approved a resolution this week asking Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly to protect the LGDF funds for municipalities. And New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann vowed to fight the cuts.
Baldermann attended the luncheon and said Rauner didn’t waver in the policies he proposed while running for governor.
“I appreciated his candor and willingness to meet with us knowing we’re not happy,” he said.
“I know you’re going to throw tomatoes at me,” Baldermann and other officials said Rauner told the audience gathered to hear from him Thursday.
Hock said the group of mayors and local officials were “polite enough not to beat up on him.”
Plainfield Trustee Jim Racich, who attended on behalf of Mayor Michael Collins, said Rauner talked a lot about his goals to reduce spending, but didn’t specifically say how he was going to fund his plan.
“There was nothing terribly specific the group asked him other than what changes he is going to make in the state government,” Racich said, adding that Rauner emphasized that he doesn’t want to interfere in local government.
Holland said Rauner also was asked about his stance on the Peotone airport and Illiana expressway projects.
“He stated that he has spoken to people he respected opposed and for each project, but he hasn’t formed his position on these issues,” Holland said.
• Reporter Bob Okon contributed to this story.