Quinn, Brady tangle over budget cuts, jobs

CARBONDALE | Gov candidates' debate driven by state's fiscal woes

Friday, October 15, 2010

The leading gubernatorial candidates sparred Thursday over Illinois’ dire fiscal situation with Gov. Quinn accusing GOP rival Bill Brady of not having a “heart” when it comes to budget cuts while the Bloomington senator belittled Quinn’s budgetary plan as a “fairy tale.”

The two major-party candidates, along with Green Party nominee Rich Whitney, also spent part of their hour-long debate in Carbondale jostling over who had the best approach to encouraging job growth in the recession-gripped state.

Facing a $13 billion budget deficit, Quinn touted $3 billion in budget cuts he has made since taking office in January 2009 and promised to “balance the budget without harming education, health care and public safety.”

In the next breath, Quinn attacked Brady’s oft-repeated plan to cut the state budget by “a dime on a dollar,” saying that approach would cut education spending by more than $1 billion and cost 20,000 teachers their jobs.

“That’s not a way to balance the budget. We’ve got to think of ordinary, everyday people and have a governor with a heart,” Quinn said.

Quinn also noted Brady’s late-summer admission that school cuts of that magnitude would lead to property tax increases, though Brady denied making that comment and instead claimed he said “property valuations” would rise.

Brady tore into Quinn, saying his budget-cutting boasts were pretend — as were the governor’s claims that he has helped bring jobs to Illinois when Brady says 200,000 jobs have disappeared during Quinn’s watch.

“Governor, you have to be realistic. Not only are your cuts in spending fairy tales because of $8 billion in deficit spending Illinois families are stuck with, but you can’t talk about creating jobs when you have a net loss of jobs,” said Brady, who touted his own plan to offer employers tax credits for job creation designed to help lead the state out of its budget conundrum.

Brady also tried tying Quinn to his “partner Blagojevich” by invoking the name of Quinn’s one-time running mate — the impeached ex-governor — three times.

One of those occasions dealt with Quinn’s pact with state government’s largest public employee union, AFSCME, to avoid layoffs until 2012, a deal struck near the same time that the union endorsed Quinn for governor.

“This is a deal Gov. Blagojevich would be proud of Gov. Quinn for,” Brady said.

But Quinn portrayed Brady, whose legislative district includes State Farm’s headquarters, as being a puppet of the insurance industry, taking $500,000 in campaign contributions from insurance companies and voting against mandatory tests for colon cancer and a plan to let mothers remain in the hospital more than 24 hours after their children’s births.

“Twenty-four-hour deliveries and then sending a mom out, that’s just wrong, Sen. Brady,” Quinn said.

“There you go again,” Brady snapped back. “You can’t run on your record, so mistruths and distortions.”

As Brady and Quinn went after one another, Whitney outlined his own plans for the creation of a state bank, an increase in taxes to fund education and lower property taxes and a plan to provide all college students with free tuition.

Thursday’s debate, the second public sparring match between the candidates, came the same day a new poll showed Brady leading Quinn by single digits.

A Rasmussen Reports automated poll of 750 likely voters on Thursday showed Brady with 46 percent of the vote compared to Quinn’s 40 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.