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Rauner Not Changing Course With Pensions

Updated: Monday, July 14 2014, 10:21 AM CDT
ILLINOIS -- Come January, Bruce Rauner wants to start making changes at the capitol.

One of those changes is shifting public employees to a 401k-style, defined contribution pensions. Even though the Illinois Supreme Court ruled retirees do not need to pay a portion of their health care costs, which political experts say its a blow to pension reform case, Rauner isn't changing course.

Appearing before the American Legion Convention Friday, Rauner promised to support veterans. Afterwards, the talk was of Rauner's other plans for the state, specifically his plans to switch state pensions to defined contribution plans.

Despite a recent ruling on retiree benefits, Rauner says there isn't a final answer on last year's pension reform law.

"Well we should see what the court decides ultimately when they do, and we can address things then," he told reporters.

Rauner said he favors a defined contribution pension plan for "new work" while honoring the benefits employees have built up.

"The future is very much, can be a function of what we mutually negotiate and decide what makes sense for our good, government workers, who deserve good benefits, as well as for the taxpayers," he said.

Rauner avoided saying whether that was just new workers who get the plan ,or if it would include everyone. AFSCME officials say its clear that second option is what Rauner wants.

"He wants to end the pension system - the current pension system, and he wants to force the people who provide public services, the people who make this state run, he wants to force them into a risky, Wall Street-type scheme," said AFSCME Council 31 Legislative Director Joanna Webb-Gauvin. "It's unconstitutional, and it's the wrong direction."

But there aren't specifics yet of what Rauner wants to do. When asked if his fallback plan would be just changing pensions for new workers, he used his well-worn mantra.

"We'll be outlining our detailed plans in the future," he said.

Rauner also took the opportunity to take a shot at his opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn. In regard to the Neighobrohood Recovery Initiative, the governor's troubled 2010 anti-violence program, he said Quinn needed to "come clean." Rauner says Quinn is "hiding" instead of releasing key documents.

Bruce Rauner responded to questions about his tax filings today, too, saying "We've paid full taxes as appropriate." This in response to a published report stating the Republican candidate for governor was able to avoid paying Social Security or Medicare taxes in 2011 and 2012 despite an income of $55 million.

When asked if he "should" be able to skip paying those taxes, Rauner dodged the question, and said "We can talk about how we should reform our tax code, and we'll be doing that in the future."

The Quinn campaign has made an effort to paint Rauner as an out of-touch, wealthy businessman. Quinn has repeatedly called on Rauner to release his complete tax records.Rauner Not Changing Course With Pensions

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