Brady: Congress wrong to send Illinois money

Friday, August 13, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Republican candidate for governor Bill Brady said Thursday that Congress was wrong to pass an aid package that will give Illinois nearly $1 billion for teachers and health care.

Brady said the $26 billion legislation will increase the federal deficit and leave Illinois with a bigger budget hole to fill next year.

"These are just typical Washington games, digging a deeper hole," Brady told reporters as he prepared to march in a Springfield parade. "I don't know where they're going to get the money."

The federal legislation pays for the aid by ending a tax loophole used by multinational corporations and cutting future food stamp benefits. Democrats say it will actually reduce the deficit by about $1.4 billion.

Illinois is expected to get $415 million for education, which Democratic officials predict will prevent more than 5,000 teachers from being laid off. The state would also get about $500 million to spend on Medicaid, the health program for the poor.

"It just avoids the inevitable," said Brady, a state senator from Bloomington. "At the end of the day, we have to learn to live within our means and we cannot ask the federal government to continue to bail us out."

His running mate, Jason Plummer, called the money "magical fairy dust" that won't solve any long-term problems.

Brady said Illinois should not reject the federal aid. If Congress has decided to spend the money, he said, Illinois should get its fair share.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn applauded the federal aid when it was approved by Congress, calling it "crucial" to maintaining education and health services.

Quinn's campaign did not immediately respond to message seeking comment Thursday evening.

Brady also criticized Quinn for letting his agencies give optional raises to some state employees while Illinois struggles with a $13 billion deficit. Brady said that if he becomes governor, he would block all raises except those required by union contract until Illinois is out of
debt.