Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner talks tax reform with area businesses

Funding schools, the political climate and tax reform: Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner sat down with business owners in Carterville Wednesday to talk about the issues they and the state face.

One business says the talks are a step in the right direction.

With plenty of people stopping by Walker’s Bluff Winery, owner Cynde Bunch says they’re doing well. But, she says, it’s hard running a business during the state budget stalemate.

"The biggest concern is not having a budget. Because without a budget, it is impossible for us to grow," Bunch said. She says Walker’s Bluff is looking to expand, an opportunity that’s delayed without state support.

She told Rauner Wednesday at a round table that the impasse and property taxes are burying small businesses.

"You know, you’ve got to sell a whole lot of steak to make $120,000 just to pay property taxes," Bunch said.

Rauner says he sees Illinois’ property tax situation as a big problem. He says increasing state support for its schools and reforming property taxes can help change that.

"We are dead last in state support for schools. That pushes all the burden on to local small businesses and property owners,”  said Rauner. He says rural districts and low-income families struggle with this system and as a result, their education.

Rauner says it’s time for a change, and that starts with working together. Bunch says this session shows that cooperation. She says she feels like he’s taking southern Illinois businesses much more seriously now.

"I mean, he finally came out of Springfield to see what we’re doing down here, you know, and some of the policies and other things that aren’t getting done —how it’s affecting us as business owners," Bunch said.

She says she hopes Rauner is able to take the ideas that came out of the listening session and use it to make real change for Illinois businesses.

As for growing concerns over the state budget for next year, Rauner says negotiations are going well, and he’s hopeful the state could see a budget passed in the coming weeks.

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