Herald & Review

Business backs Brady while unions line up behind Quinn

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

SPRINGFIELD - In the race for governor in Illinois, it is clear which candidate is preferred by the business community.

State Sen. Bill Brady, a Republican homebuilder from Bloomington, has received endorsements from business groups such as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses and Illinois Manufacturers' Association.

With those endorsements come financial support from the titans of industry and small-business owners, all aimed at helping Brady topple Democrat Pat Quinn on Nov. 2.

"He's signed the front of the check, not just the back of the check," said Kim Maisch, Illinois director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

But Quinn, who ascended to the state's top office last year after Rod Blagojevich was impeached, said his record on helping Illinois crawl out of its deep fiscal hole shows he, too, is friendly to the business community.

Since taking office, Quinn has been cutting ribbons and signing legislation at events designed to spotlight job creation.

He points to the expansion of a Ford automobile plant on Chicago's southeast side and a plan to relocate heavy-duty vehicle maker Navistar International Corp.'s headquarters to a Chicago suburb. He also helped shepherd a job-creating statewide construction bill through the General Assembly and said his support of energy efficiency programs could bring more "green" jobs to the Land of Lincoln.

Quinn took a page out of Brady's pro-business playbook last spring when he backed a new hire tax credit. That new law, which provides a tax credit to companies with fewer than 50 employees, initially was floated by Brady to include all businesses.

As part of his effort to spread the word to voters that his policies are helping, Quinn points to the August unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, which was the first time the rate had been in the single digits in two years.

While Brady is counting on financial support from the business community, Quinn has been endorsed by labor unions, many of whom support a tax increase and increased government spending on public works projects.

Quinn's failure to gain the support from traditional business organizations is not a surprise. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce, for example, has never endorsed a Democrat.

And Quinn's embrace of an income tax increase as a way to help Illinois return to solvency is opposed by most pro-business organizations.

Supporters say Brady is getting the support over Quinn because of a track record dating back to his first days in the legislature as a member of the Illinois House in 1992. He has backed pro-business positions on the minimum wage, tort reform, tax hikes and workers compensation issues throughout his career.

Brady won support from the Illinois Manufacturers' Association because he supports cutting the state budget, reducing taxes and "eliminating red tape," association President Greg Baise said.

"Bill knows that raising taxes is not the answer to our problems," Baise said.

Added Maisch: "He has been one of the most consistent pro-business votes in the General Assembly."