Same party, different taxes stance
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is working to make the case the state needs to keep its 2011 income tax hike to stay financially afloat, but some fellow office-seekers from his own party are walking from door to door daily with a different message.
The suburban Democrats facing re-election to the Illinois House in the toughest local races largely oppose making the tax hike permanent beyond the end of the year, crossing up their candidate at the top of the ticket, Daily Herald candidate surveys show.
They'll be taking their campaigns directly to suburban voters over the coming months, climbing doorsteps to introduce themselves and, when asked about taxes, usually disagreeing with Quinn.
"The taxes out here are one of the biggest issues," said state Rep. Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat who opposes renewing the tax hike.
"It's going to be a tough sell in the suburbs," said Crespo, who is running in a rematch against Republican Ramiro Juarez of Streamwood.
Quinn's opponent, Republican Bruce Rauner, also favors letting the tax increase expire.
Quinn has been pushing since spring for extending the temporary income tax hike, arguing that simple math suggests the state will face big financial problems if it loses that money. He threw in the idea of countering it with additional property tax credits for most Illinoisans and argues Rauner's budget plans are both too vague and unbalanced.
"The governor's honest and responsible budget proposal was validated by all three credit ratings agencies and provides the largest investment in the classroom in Illinois history," Quinn spokeswoman Izabela Miltko said. "It also provides significant new property tax relief and reduces reliance on property taxes, while ensuring long-term financial security for Illinois."
That suburban Democrats aren't convinced is one reason Quinn couldn't get the tax extension approved in the spring.
"This is what the people in my district are for," said state Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat who wants income taxes to roll back as scheduled. "I'm sticking by my position."
His opponent, Park Ridge Republican Mel Thillens, shares a campaign office with a Rauner field organizer and shares Rauner's opinion on the tax hike. Republicans, too, have been walking a lot to try to win seats and telling voters to vote against the party that's in power.
"What I hear is that they're frustrated," Thillens said.
Wait and see
Republicans try to make the point that the 2011 tax increase was approved after the election, when a handful of lawmakers who had just lost their seats voted for it despite campaign promises.
"Talk is cheap," state Rep. David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, said.
McSweeney Thursday introduced a resolution in the Illinois House calling for opposition of the controversial idea that local school districts should pick up what is now the state's share of teachers' pensions. The idea has been criticized in the suburbs as a financial burden that could raise property taxes.
McSweeney's proposal itself doesn't carry the weight of law, but he's won the support of more than half the number of people opponents would need to block the idea.
Protect the police
At a Springfield event with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rauner touted the endorsement of a police organization and said officers' retirement accounts need to be protected.
"I'm a believer that we need to protect the pensions for the police officers and give them a special retirement beyond what's standardly done in other pensions," he said. "Police officers deserve our ultimate respect and support. They put their lives at risk."
Suburban mayors have been pushing in recent years to cut local police officer and firefighter pension benefits in an effort to get costs under control.
Despite that, no legislation on the matter has reached Quinn's desk.
If it did happen ...
A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk confirms the Highland Park Republican recently has sent fundraising letters raising the possibility of a 2016 race for re-election against first lady Michelle Obama. One also surfaced in July.
In the letter, Kirk seems to acknowledge the doubts many hold that this would actually happen.
"Whether or not you believe this most recent rumor, there is no doubt the Illinois Senate race will be one of the most closely watched and hotly contested races in the country in 2016," the letter says.
In May, President Barack Obama told a national TV audience how he'd react if his wife someday announced she wanted to run for office: "I would be sure there had been an alien body snatching going on. One thing I can promise you, Michelle will not run for office."
Among the local remembrances of Sept. 11 Thursday was one on the U.S. House floor from U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Winfield Republican who went to high school with Todd Beamer.
"Declaring 'Let's Roll,' he and the other brave Americans on Flight 93 helped prevent further catastrophe while sacrificing their own lives in the process," Hultgren said in the speech.
"This summer I had the privilege of touring the Flight 93 National Memorial and museum in Shanksville, Penn.," he said. "There, I presented a Wheaton Academy high school yearbook to be included in the museum's archives."