Bill Brady has refused to tell us exactly how he’ll cut spending by 10 percent and balance the budget his first year as governor.
But at least now Brady can tell us why he can’t tell us. It’s Pat Quinn’s fault, for not letting him peek inside the state budget.
“There’s no transparency,” Brady complained as he marched in the Twilight Parade at the Illinois State Fair. “The first thing we’ll do is sanction an audit from the auditor general. One of the hardest things with this administration and their cloak of secrecy is to know where they’re spending money. Last year, Governor Quinn was given a $3 billion lump sum to do something with. We still don’t know what he’s done.”
The Quincy Herald-Whig tried to get Brady to gives specifics on his budget plan, but was foiled as he lapsed into the classic chestnut of the budget-cutter, promising only to “root out corruption and fraud and abusive.”
When challenged on whether 10 percent funding cuts would cripple schools, Brady would only say putting professionals in leadership will help. He suggested that employees who agree to forgo pay raises could help school districts. He did not say how that would help school districts recoup money they are owed by the state — $5.8 million for Quincy Public Schools alone — or offset earlier education cuts, including a 42 percent reduction in transportation funding announced last week by Gov. Pat Quinn.
So far, Brady has identified only one corrupt, fraudulent or abusive agency. He has “pledged to eliminate the Illinois State Board of Education, trimming about half of the $80 million that currently goes to that agency.”
Illinois spends $53 billion a year, so even cutting 10 percent won’t close the $13 billion budget gap. But Brady also refuses to say where he’ll get the rest of the money. He doesn’t like the idea of taking it from the federal government. Brady praised Rep. Mark Kirk for voting against this week’s $26 billion emergency spending bill.
“We’re addicted to stimulus money,” Brady complained. “Now Gov. Quinn’s addicted to these resources, failing to zero in on the systemic budget problems we have.”
(Brady did, however, say that Illinois should take the money, since everyone else is getting it: “We in the state of Illinois should receive the same benefits.”)
Cutting spending by 10 percent sounds great until you find out you start promising to cut roads, schools, child care, health care, or state parks. Brady’s finding it’s better to say nothing, and blame Pat Quinn for his silence.