CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) – Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn calls his Republican challenger “heartless” for his budget tax cuts, while Bill Brady accuses the incumbent of cutting a shady deal with a key union to help his campaign.
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The two swapped those accusations in the latest debate Thursday over who should be the next governor. Polls show a tight race between Quinn and Brady leading up to the Nov. 2 election.
One of the most pointed exchanges came over an agreement Quinn reached with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The deal says that if the union comes up with at least $50 million in budget cuts, the state won’t lay off any union members or close facilities through mid-2012.
Brady accused Quinn of signing the agreement to win AFSCME’s endorsement and compared it to something ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich would support.
“This is a deal Gov. Blagojevich would be proud of Gov. Quinn for,” Brady said.
Quinn maintained the agreement is a boon for the state because it will cut costs. He said he’s the only governor who has been able to negotiate givebacks with AFSCME.
“I have a record of saving taxpayers money by getting union concessions,” Quinn said.
Quinn, the former lieutenant governor, took over after Blagojevich was removed from office in January 2009 over corruption allegations, and he has struggled to over come his Blagojevich connection.
The third debate participant, Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, said the deal harms both taxpayers and government employees because it delays real action on the state’s problems.
Quinn called Brady “heartless” for his promise to close a $13 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. He said the plan would require cold-hearted cuts to vital services. He also said Brady lacks courage and integrity because he won’t spell out where he would cut.
Brady argued that Quinn is driving jobs away from Illinois by pushing to raise income taxes to 4 percent, up from 3 percent now.
Whitney said neither of his rivals is being honest with voters.
“We can’t rely on fantasy economics,” said the Carbondale attorney.
Quinn boasted that he has persuaded companies to expand in Illinois and has cut state spending by $3 billion. But he had little to say about what further steps he would take to close a $13 billion deficit.
Brady, meanwhile, insisted Quinn is driving jobs away from Illinois with his proposal to raise income taxes.
“Gov. Quinn’s the job governor all right, but it just happens to be for Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky and other states,” said Brady, a state senator from Bloomington.
He said Illinois must balance its budget without raising taxes, although he didn’t outline how he would accomplish that.
The three candidates faced off in a televised debate at Southern Illinois University. Two other candidates, independent Scott Lee Cohen and Libertarian Lex Green, were not invited because they failed to get 5 percent in the most recent polls.
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