Durbin, Quinn fire up Kane County Democrats at annual dinner

Updated 3/4/2013 10:20 AM

Sequestration is upon the nation, and Illinois' pension deficit debacle is still menacing the budget, but two of the state's top Democrats joined with their Kane County allies Sunday for a pep rally and finger-pointing in Aurora Sunday.

A chorus of boos rained down when Sen. Dick Durbin began his remarks for the annual Kane County Democrats Truman Dinner.

"On Friday the Republicans pushed through the sequestration," Durbin said.

He pointed to a bill Democrats offered up at the last minute as evidence Democrats did all they could. The bill, Durbin said, would have closed two tax loopholes and offered up "savings from other areas."

One of the tax loopholes was the so-called "Buffet Rule" that addresses millionaires who pay a lower income tax rate than "the janitors who work in their buildings," Durbin said. The other loophole addressed tax breaks given to companies who move jobs overseas.

"The Republicans said no," Durbin said. "What does that mean? It means we're going to lose jobs in America."

Durbin said 750,000 jobs are now on the chopping block as a result of sequestration.

"You've got to understand what's running the Republican Party in Washington, D.C. In the House of Representatives, which is run by the Republican Party, are people who only hate one thing more than government -- the president. And what they have done is to say we will stop spending on government, regardless of what it is, rather than raise taxes one penny on the wealthiest people in this country."

Gov. Pat Quinn also spoke. The appearance came at perhaps an awkward time for Quinn. He still awaits word of whether or not AFSCME members will accept a deal on a new contract brokered by Quinn after more than months of strike threats. Quinn will also make his budget address this week.

In his Sunday speech, it was clear both the pending union deal and Quinn's push for a hike in the state's minimum wage will be key talking points for Quinn in the near term.

"We just finished a negotiation, 15 months long, at the bargaining table with our government AFSCME employees," Quinn said. "We came to a tentative agreement that has to be voted on by the members. I'm very hopeful they will vote yes in favor of that agreement and have a contract."

Quinn then called on every union member and representative at the dinner to stand and be applauded. Nearly everyone in the room stood by the time hands stopped clapping.

"There is a principal as old as the Bible, and our party lives by that principle," Quinn said. "If you work 40 hours a week, you should not live in poverty. That's why we believe in raising the minimum wage. We're going to fight hard in Illinois to show the way for the rest of the country that we want to make sure that people get a decent wage for their labor."

Kane County Democrats also celebrated their local electoral successes of placing 10 Democrats on the county board, helping elect Bill Foster and Tammy Duckworth to Congress and beating the drum on a successful push to see President Barack Obama serve a second term.

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