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Article updated: 10/17/2010 10:49 PM

This time, it's personal

Quinn, Brady shed little light on economic plans in debate

By Kerry Lester

Gov. Pat Quinn and state Sen. Bill Brady -- in the suburbs Sunday night -- were supposed to spend their third public debate discussing the state's economic future.

"Are you ready for a significant debate on ideas and issues in this campaign?" moderator Steve Edwards asked the hundreds of students and area residents in attendance at Elmhurst College's Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel.

But tough talk and needling one another largely dominated the evening, as the two candidates offered few specifics about pulling Illinois out of debt.

They were repeatedly asked by Edwards, and the debate's three panelists, to get more specific on their respective plans.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, accused his opponent of wanting to mass-euthanize dogs and cats.

He hammered at Brady, a Bloomington Republican, for not paying federal income taxes in 2008 and 2009 due to business losses, and Quinn accused him of placing votes to support his development business, accusations Brady called "reckless.

Brady, in turn, noted Quinn once called impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich "the most decent man he ever met.

"Either you were in it for your own good, or you were asleep at the wheel, Brady said. He called Quinn "worse than Blagojevich.

"We have two governors who got in trouble for wanting to enrich themselves, Quinn said. "That's not me.

When they were talking about the budget, Quinn said he would not cut education or veterans programs if he is elected to another term.

When asked what he would cut, he pointed to language Park Ridge Sen. Dan Kotowski fought to insert in the budget this spring, calling for a more rigorous analysis of spending.

"We're going to look at every single expenditure in state government, with the aim of eliminating waste, Quinn said.

Brady reiterated his plan to cut a "dime on every dollar of the state's budget, calling to "reprioritize with the remaining 90 cents that we have.

When pressed again, Quinn said he'd call for lawmakers to cut their pay. Brady said he'd push for stricter Medicaid eligibility to create savings.

On taxes, Quinn said his 1 percentage point income tax increase proposal to be invested in education would "pay great dividends.

He said he "has the courage to get into the arena and tell people the truth before the election.

Brady said the state "cannot dig deeper in the pockets of family and businesses. We need to tackle state spending but not raise taxes on family and businesses.

Instead, he said, creating jobs in the private sector is the solution.

Brady said his economic plan includes stabilizing the tax environment, tackling lawsuit reform and "balancing the budget to live within our means.

Quinn called himself the "cleanup man, touting the addition of 1,200 jobs at Chicago's Ford Motors plant and Navistar's recent decision to stay in Lisle.

"I'm going to invest in education. Jobs follow brainpower, and I'm the jobs governor, he said.

Brady, asked whether he was "out of step opposing civil unions giving gay and lesbian partners legally recognized rights and benefits said only that his agenda was focused on the state's economic crisis.

Quinn pointed to a 2004 bill Brady voted against protecting gay and lesbians from workplace and housing discrimination, noting "gay people are workers too.

Looking at the state's pension problem, Brady said he would "stop the bleeding, noting it must be funded on an annual basis.

Quinn said he sees collective bargaining as the opportunity to work with those who work for the state to get that reform.

Green Party candidate Rich Whitney protested outside the debate, with supporters in tow. He accused the college of "tilting the playing field by inviting candidates based on "arbitrary polling.

College public relations Director Desiree Chen said the college referenced several polls taken 30 days before the election and featured all five candidates for governor. She also noted Elmhurst invited each of the candidates to come to the campus to speak with students. She said Whitney was the only one who outright declined.

The debate Sunday night was broadcast live on WBEZ 91.5 FM. Two debates remain between for the governor's race a League of Women Voters debate at 10:35 p.m. Wednesday on ABC-7 and a 7 p.m. Oct. 28 debate on WTTW Channel 11.

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