*** UPDATE *** As noted below, Sen. Bill Brady was reported as saying that he could balance the budget in a year. The campaign later admitted to me that it would take two to three years to pay off the accumulated overdue bills, so actually he’s not really balancing the budget. I asked the Quincy Herald Whig for the audio recording, and you can click here for the clip.
“I believe we can better schools with less money. I believe we can have better health care with less money. But we have to adopt what the private sector does and that is weed out the inefficiency and the mismanagement. Make our government lean.
“But I have an obligation as governor to live within our means. And I will balance the state’s budget in the first year. Let me say that again because most people don’t believe it. I will balance the state’s budget in the first year, because i have a fiduciary obligation to the people of Illinois, to the Constitution, to do that.”
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
* A headline in today’s Quincy Herald Whig caught my eye…
Bill Brady, GOP gubernatorial nominee, pledges to balance Illinois budget in first year
From the story…
A state senator and business owner from Bloomington, Brady said he would run the state like a business, trimming expenses that have built up during the past eight years. He has pledged to cut 10 percent of state spending and balance the budget in his first year, but offered no specifics on how plans to achieve those goals and work to eliminate a $13 billion state budget deficit.
When challenged on whether 10 percent funding cuts would cripple schools, Brady would only say putting professionals in leadership will help. He suggested that employees who agree to forgo pay raises could help school districts. He did not say how that would help school districts recoup money they are owed by the state — $5.8 million for Quincy Public Schools alone — or offset earlier education cuts, including a 42 percent reduction in transportation funding announced last week by Gov. Pat Quinn.
During a later stop, Brady pledged to eliminate the Illinois State Board of Education, trimming about half of the $80 million that currently goes to that agency. […]
“If we root out corruption and fraud and abuse … we can have better government, with 90 cents on the dollar, than we have now,” Brady said.
Can he cut 10 percent from spending, reduce taxes and balance the budget? Nope. Not even close. Pat Quinn’s campaign fired off a press release this morning…
After Senator Brady has spent 17 years in the legislature without achieving a leadership position or taking the lead on a single significant piece of jobs and economy legislation… After he spent months this legislative session without uttering a single real idea to fix our budget crisis… After Governor Jim Edgar called him “naïve” on the budget, and budget expert Ralph Martire called his positions “idiotic on every level”…
Senator Brady yesterday made unmistakably clear what many have long known: he doesn’t understand how our state budget works, but he’ll say anything to woo voters on the campaign trail.
Yesterday in Quincy, Senator Brady told a group of reporters and voters what could have been confused for a fairy tale. He promised not only that he could balance the budget with a 10% cut from the $54 billion annual budget, but that he could do it in only one year.
According to Brady, however, this wasn’t fiction, this was his budget plan.
But, just as no magic beans can actually grow into a beanstalk that reaches the sky, no 10% cut of state spending can eliminate a $12.9 billion deficit. Even worse, it would require catastrophic cuts to our schools and police departments across the state. It would mean skyrocketing property taxes. And it would still leave an $8 billion hole.
* I checked with Brady’s campaign. Hasn’t Brady said in the past that it would take a few years to pay off the backlog of bills and balance the budget? Here’s the response…
Bill has said he’ll have a plan in place to deal with the backlog of unpaid bills — but it could take 2-3 years to pay them off.
OK, so he won’t balance the budget in a year. I’m not sure what that hoopla was all about in Quincy, then.
* But there’s another angle to this story. The Quinn campaign’s press release says the budget deficit is $12.9 billion. I asked the governor’s budget office what number they were using, and they said it was about $13 billion.
OK, but that $13 billion figure was the projected deficit way back in February. I sent the budget office this question…
So, does this mean there was no net reduction in the deficit then? I mean it was projected to be $12-13 billion before the budget was passed, and it’s still that?
At this time we are still using the $13 billion figure.
So, in other words, according to the governor’s campaign and his budget office, there have been no net cuts to that original projected deficit figure.
Let’s go back to the Quinn press release…
Meanwhile, in the real world, Governor Pat Quinn is executing an economic strategy that continues to keep Illinois on the road to recovery. He cut a record $3 billion from the state budget in just two years, and protected funding for education and public safety.
Yeah, well, he cut the budget but he didn’t touch the deficit, apparently. And he also didn’t protect funding for education. He cut that, too.
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