Friday, October 08, 2010
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Brady, Quinn seeking public employee support

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[October 08, 2010]  SPRINGFIELD -- The scramble for campaign endorsements continues in the tight gubernatorial race between GOP nominee Bill Brady and Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.

Both candidates have garnered significant support from public employee unions in the lead-up to the Nov. 2 general election.

The state is struggling with a $13 billion budget deficit, and the candidates are appealing to organizations and voters that they have the best vision for state government.

Quinn is running on a platform of preserving education and state services with a 33 percent income tax increase.

In late September, Quinn received the endorsement of AFSCME, the state's largest public employee union. Just days later, Quinn reached an agreement to not lay off any AFSCME workers.

The new deal consists of cost-cutting measures identified by the union itself in the form of furloughs, elimination of overtime, delayed raises and reductions in medical insurance. The Quinn administration claims the agreement could save the state up to $100 million, though the union has not approached that figure yet.

But the plan is short on specifics.

Brady attacked the negotiation as a move that handcuffs the state's fiscal options.

"Like his former boss Rod Blagojevich, Pat Quinn has sold out the people of Illinois. After weeks of public denials to the contrary, Pat Quinn now admitted he long ago signed this eleventh-hour, backroom deal with the same union leaders expected to pour millions of dollars into his campaign," Brady said in a statement.

But the Quinn campaign denies any exchange of endorsement for political action taking place.

"The suggestion of a relationship between the timing of AFSCME's endorsement and the money-saving agreement between the state and union is incorrect. This is the opposite of a 'sweetheart deal'; the governor secured cost-saving concessions from the union, which was under no obligation to give them," a Quinn spokeswoman said in a statement.

Brady has countered by saying he will bring fiscal responsibility back to state government.

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In his first gubernatorial debate with Quinn last month, Brady made one notable exception to his promise of widespread "dime out of every dollar" cuts. The Bloomington state senator pledged to allow public safety departments to identify their own spending reductions.

The announcement came weeks after the 34,000-member Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Brady.

The Brady campaign maintains that the GOP candidate will be able to cut public safety while maintaining protection for Illinois families.

"Bill has said everything is going to be looked at when he makes the budget cuts, and he has been told there has been waste, fraud and abuse and that reasonable cuts can be made to public safety," Brady spokeswoman Patty Schuh said.

The Quinn campaign expressed doubts that Brady would follow through with his campaign promises.

"We are identifying savings and making them contingent, unlike Brady, who is not identifying any savings until after the election," a Quinn spokeswoman said in a statement. "Gov. Quinn is taking a common-sense approach to dealing with the budget crisis."

But Schuh said Gov. Quinn has failed to make any meaningful budget cuts.

She added, "You only need to look at the latest report of the Illinois comptroller to see that is the case."

Voters will choose between the candidates during the general election on Nov. 2.

[Illinois Statehouse News; By KEVIN LEE]

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