GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady has spent 17 years in the state
capitol. What legislative accomplishments does he have to show for it?
The Tribune's Eric Zorn dug into the Republican's record last Friday
and concluded that the Republican "hasn't done much heavy lifting in Springfield."
Brady's stated chief achievement is the creation of Heartland Community
College, which actually opened two years before he was elected but
which he's since found money in the state budget to fund. "A fine
thing, no doubt," Zorn adds. "But small-bore and routine as legislative
accomplishments go." And it's difficult to see how Heartland will
benefit from a Brady administration intent on cutting spending in virtually all departments, including higher education; the college’s vice president of
business complained to the Pantagraph this summer that "declines in state support
make it challenging to address Heartland’s continued enrollment growth
while pursuing the college’s goals of access and affordability."
Brady's meager output is a point Gov. Pat Quinn raised during the first gubernatorial debate last month. "You don't just talk about it," he said. "You have a record." Watch it:
Gov. Pat Quinn says he's trying to speed up the state's late bill payments, which are the slowest
in the nation. "I have a lump sum budget and I'm trying to navigate our
state through paying the bills [and] at the same time, keeping people
working," he told Chicago Public Radio.
This spring, the General Assembly did not appropriate enough
money for the governor's office to pay its annual obligations and
erase the state's cumulative deficit. Illinois still has to make $2
billion in payments leftover from last fiscal year and has already accumulated $3.5
billion in new debt during the first quarter of FY 2011. Gov. Quinn, however, has come under fire from some service providers for spending money on two new programs instead of prioritizing the state's bill backlog.
During the first gubernatorial debate, GOP nominee Bill Brady became the latest member of Illinois' Grand Old Party to lay out some fulsome praise for Indiana state government, a trend we've already noted. Here's Brady assuring debate-watchers that if he was elected governor, his administration would "learn" from Indiana:
Indiana's budget and fiscal outlook is indeed better than the Land of Lincoln. But that's, in part, because the state levies higher taxes than we do. According to estimates from the state's non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), if Illinois mimicked Indiana's tax code in three key areas, the Land of Lincoln would bring in an additional $5.6 billion more than it does presently. Raising the sales tax from 5 to 7 percent (Indiana's current rate) and taxing some additional services would bring in about $3 billion, according to COGFA. If Illinois' income tax was raised to Indiana's rate of 3.4 percent and the state taxed retirement income at 3.4 percent, those two streams would bring in additional $2.6 billion.
Brady may love Indiana, but he hasn't said how he squares his no-tax pledge with the higher taxes seen in the Hoosier state.
Gov. Pat Quinn is getting thrown under the bus for the deal
he struck with AFSCME Council 31 to avoid state employee layoffs. For
those just getting caught up, the Quinn administration has promised
it won't cut any state jobs or close any facilities until June 30, 2012
if the public employees union makes changes to its group health
insurance plan that will save $70 million
and identifies an additional $50 million in cuts by the end of October.
(The union has set a savings goal of $100 million.) In a piece for the State Journal-Register today, Chris Wetterich
quotes several lawmakers who argue Quinn should have asked for more
details about how the public employees union plans to reduce costs
before he finalized the agreement. That critique is fair, to a point.
But let's not forget that the bargain is voided if the
union doesn't make clear this month how its members choose to cut
costs. (Budget spokesperson Kelly Kraft confirmed that for us today.)
That piece of context seems important.
Speaking of labor
deals, GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady seems to have one cooking
up on his own. During the gubernatorial debate last week, he suggested
that he would exempt the state's public safety budget from his 10
percent cuts. Who is Brady's only major labor endorsement? The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police. Seems to undercut his quid-pro-quo attack line, doesn't it?
Given Illinois state government's inability to pay its bills, it's no wonder that voter distrust of state government is on the rise, as a new survey finds. But the survey revealed a few hopeful signs, too.
This morning's Sun-Times included a gracious endorsement of
Democrat Pat Quinn for governor. Pointing to his advocacy for an income
tax hike and the spending cuts he implemented during the past two
years, the editorial says Quinn can "claim considerable accomplishments
and has shown real courage." The paper wasn't so kind to the Republican
nominee, Bill Brady. They contend that his future revenue projections
are "appallingly rosy" and "backed up by zero analysis." The Republican
can "insist until the cows come home that a tax increase is
unnecessary," the paper adds, "but he is simply wrong." The full piece is
Meanwhile, the Champaign-based Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 149 made their own Quinn endorsement, which the campaign says it will begin airing statewide this weekend. It's pretty effective. Have a look: