Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Rauner talks budget, Legionnaires’ crisis during Rockford visit

By Chase Cavanaugh

ROCKFORD — Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner brought his budget ideas to employees at Ingersoll Machine Tools in Rockford Tuesday.

Rauner said he wanted to improve the business climate in the state by reducing regulations, and most importantly, by cutting income taxes.

“I introduced a budget that gives you guys a billion dollar income tax cut now and I want to give you an income tax cut every year for the next four years to get the income tax down so it’s reasonable on you,” Rauner said.

He pushed for greater autonomy for cities to set property tax levies. The legislature has yet to act on Rauner’s budget proposals.

During his visit, Rauner also addressed outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy state veterans home.

The disease is spread through bacteria in water vapor. Outbreaks have killed more than a dozen veterans at the facility.

Rauner says his administration is considering replacing old plumbing systems, as well as demolishing residence halls. He says another option could be transferring the existing residents to another facility.

“The challenge with that is they’re very vulnerable– very frail. They’re very elderly and this is their home,” Rauner said. “This is like a family for them. And so you don’t just rip people out of their home and put them in a completely different place.  The health risks of doing that are very substantial.”

The state director of Veterans’ Affairs says there are plans to raze residence halls where there have been cases of Legionnaires’ since 2015. That plan is estimated to take three to five years–but there’s no estimate yet for how much it would cost.

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