Editorial: Guess who is showing leadership on public policy in the Illinois GOP race for governor?
When the Illinois Republican contest for governor began to take shape in the spring, few would have thought that State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) would be the candidate championing policy initiatives, but that is what has recently occurred.
Brady has never been known in the Illinois Senate as a policy heavy weight. Far from it. And his campaign is not by any means cranking out policy papers. But neither are his opponents. The Republican gubernatorial primary has so far been a remarkably idea free zone.
But in the last week Brady has been the only Republican candidate for governor to be publicly arguing in favor of bills already on the table.
Before the pension reform vote on December 3, Brady came out forcefully for the controversial legislation that would trim state employee pension benefits by $160 billion over the next 30 years.
“I will be voting in support of this legislation which has been crafted through months of discussion, exhaustive analysis and legislative debate. It will not be an easy vote by any means; in fact it will be one of the most difficult votes I have ever cast,” said Brady.
“It’s not fair to ask state employees and teachers who have paid every dime they owed to the system to make a sacrifice,” Brady added. “It’s necessary, however, because governors and legislators who voted for budgets over the last decade did nothing more than delay the resolution we now have before us.”
Meanwhile, on the most significant financial policy issue that Illinois has confronted in the 21st century and the one with which lawmakers have struggled since 2009, Brady’s opponents – businessman Bruce Rauner of Wilmette, State Senator Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, and Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa – opposed the bill, fabricating excuses to shelter their campaigns from the political fallout of backing the measure.
Love or hate the legislation, admire that Brady stuck his neck out on brutal vote.
And yesterday Brady was back out front on a sensitive issue – business investment tax credits – calling on Governor Pat Quinn to bring the House back to Springfield to pass an incentive package to keep multinational agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland in Illinois.
Brady issued his call for special session after it was announced on Tuesday that the newly merged Office Max and Office Depot had chosen Boca Raton Florida as their new corporate headquarters instead of Downers Grove.
“The Senate did its job and passed incentives for Office Depot Inc. and ADM. The House adjourned without taking up either measure and now we’ve lost out on the jobs that would be created by having a major corporate headquarters in our state,” Brady stated. “I urge the Governor Quinn to bring the House back to Springfield so we can keep jobs in Illinois.”
Neither Rutherford, nor Rauner nor Dillard issued any statement or offered a policy response to the Office Depot move.
The incentive package for ADM requires the company to maintain 200 full-time employees at its new corporate headquarters and to relocate 100 employees into Decatur from somewhere outside of Illinois within five years. It further stipulates that ADM must hire at least 100 new employees every year for five years at the Decatur location to continue to qualify for the EDGE credit.
The ADM EDGE tax credit legislation, which is being championed by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) who is a top 2014 Republican target, is controversial because giving taxpayer money to the highly profitable corporation that pays little income tax immediately after lawmakers cut pension benefits for rank-and-file workers infuriates the Democratic base and conservative, blue-collar Reagan Democrats, and pure free-market Republicans.
Brady warns that while Chicago was among the cities under consideration, he reminds foes of the plan that major cities in other states were also trying to woo the company and ADM could easily follow Office Depot’s lead.
“The House needs to act soon if we want to ensure that ADM does not to follow Office Depot’s lead and leave Illinois,” said Brady.
Assuming a high profile role on politically tricky legislation like business tax credits involves some risk on Brady’s part, but, damn, give the senator credit for being outspokenly in favor of actual, concrete legislation rather than being fixated on promoting fluff and inanities through YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook.
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