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updated: 2/8/2011 11:55 AM

Candidates banter over budget, Madigans at SBA forum

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  • Corinne Pierog

    Corinne Pierog


Though not everyone showed up Thursday night to the Schaumburg Business Association candidates forum, there was plenty of banter about education, the budget and partisan politics.

The candidates for the 56th House seat and the 22nd and 28th state Senate seats answered questions prepared by state political expert Paul Green.

The candidates for the 44th District House Seats, incumbent Fred Crespo and challenger Billie Roth, did not attend after Roth withdrew earlier this week.

A random draw to select the questions produced an interesting exchange right off the bat as the hopefuls for the 56th House seat, Democrat Michelle Mussman and Republican Ryan Higgins, answered a question about party loyalty. Democrat Paul Froehlich holds the seat but will not seek re-election. He caused an uproar when he crossed over from the GOP in 2007.

Mussman called out her own party when she said House Speaker Michael Madigan and others needed to reform they way they conduct business.

"I appreciate we are party members, but again we need to do the job that we were elected to do," Mussman said. "Again over and over we hear that from people, we see that when we read editorials in newspapers. People want elected officials who are willing to put party affiliations aside to do the job they were elected and paid to do and that is certainly my intention."

Higgins found Mussman's displeasure hard to believe and asked why she accepted contributions from the Madigan-led state Democratic Party.

Higgins said the Nov. 2 election could define the state for the next decade.

"We're 48th in job creation, not because of you, not because of us, because of the leaders in Springfield," Higgins said. "We have a poor taxation, a poor regulation, a poor litigation climate. We need to No. 1 reform our workers' compensation system. The premiums in Illinois are much more expensive than all our neighboring states."

Another GOP hopeful couldn't resist taking a shot at Madigan. The Republican candidate in the 22nd District, Steve Rauschenberger, used the phrase "Michael Madoff Madigan," a reference to Bernie Madoff, the convicted Ponzi schemer. Rauschenberger faces incumbent Democrat Michael Noland.

However, the Madigans did draw some affection. Democrat Corrine Pierog said Attorney General Lisa Madigan was her favorite Illinois politician.

Pierog is vying to defeat John Millner, the Republican state senator for the 28th District.

Her response came after Green asked if there was an elected official from the state that represented honesty and bucked the negative vibe many feel given the state's record of indicted governors.

"I know that she fights hard, that she's fair, that's she's just, she is an atypical politician in a family where people feel that they are very typical politicians," Pierog said. "I admire her judgment to not to run for (U.S.) Senate, because she wanted to spend more time in Illinois, realizing the rigors of that position and what it would take and what it would do for her family."

Millner trotted out several reams of paper as a prop. He said the paper represented the 2,300-page budget that Springfield legislators had only 45 minutes to comb through. Millner maintained lawmakers need to given the chance to better prepared.

"When I got these 2,300 pages, you know what I did 45 minutes later? I had no choice because I wasn't given the opportunity to see any of these things," Millner said. "I hit the button and I said 'no.' How could I vote for something that I had no clue that was in there?"

Meanwhile, the atmosphere between Noland and Rauschenberger grew testy toward the end of the forum, as Rauschenberger accused Noland of misleading the public in terms of taking credit for job creations and projects that have been proposed but haven't been completed.

Noland then said Rauschenberger, a state senator form 1993 to 2007, helped accelerate the state budget deficit.

"I can assure you there are plenty of people in Springfield who are aware of Mr. Rauschenberger's experience and his tenure and his time of service in Springfield in leading us into the path of fiscal abyss that we are currently facing," Noland said.