URBANA — Paul Vallas, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said he’s disappointed with the budget that lawmakers sent to Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday, especially since it relies on more borrowing.
Earlier, in a speech to Champaign County Democrats at their spring dinner Sunday night, he decried the borrowing and budget gimmicks of the past, and what he said was “450 days of silence” from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.
“We’ve had decades of bad practices: borrowing, deferring, not funding your pensions, not paying your bills, not being willing to make the tough decisions on the revenue side,” Vallas told about 160 Democrats at a dinner at the Laborer’s Union Hall in Urbana.
“When people want to focus on the Democrats as the source of the problem, believe me, it was a collective effort. Part of the problem was the desire to spend more and the desire to not raise the money to meet the bills the spending needs. I’m not saying all of those decisions were bad decisions, but the bottom line is, the bad practices put the state in a severe financial situation which only intensified when we got hit with the great recession.”
Now, he said, the Democratic ticket is “running against a phantom party that wants to bring Washington politics to Illinois. You know what that means. It’s not the politics of choice. It’s the politics of nothingness because nothing ever gets done.”
After his 15-minute speech, Vallas said that he is “bothered” by a return to the bad budgeting practices, and the lack of a budget alternative from the Rauner campaign.
Vallas and Quinn favored extending the current 5 percent state-income tax rate past its mandated sunset on Jan. 1, 2015, but Democratic lawmakers balked at the move last month, and unless there’s a change after the election, the tax rate will drop to 3.75 percent, hundreds of millions of dollars will be borrowed from other funds and unpaid bills will mount again.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re going to have to defer some obligations so that we’re not paying down the bills like we had planned,” said Vallas, who also was a candidate for governor in the 2002 Democratic primary against Rod Blagojevich. “We are disappointed that we run the risk of reverting back to those bad practices. But the bottom line is that in November, after the election, we’re going to pick up where we left off. At the end of the day, we did not come this far after the last five years to forego this opportunity to move Illinois forward.
“It bothers me that we didn’t see anything emerge from the opposition. It bothers me that we’re borrowing again and we seem to be relapsing into the same kinds of practices that got us into this position in the first place,” he added. “But we have an election in November. The governor didn’t say that the Legislature didn’t accomplish anything. The governor said that the Legislature did not finish the job. Come November, we’ll finish the job. It’s as simple as that.”