With a group of first graders around him, Gov. Pat Quinn stood at an East Side elementary school on Tuesday, portraying the upcoming November election as a choice between someone who is for boosting education funding and his opponent who is too “timid” and “fearful” to lay out a plan.
Quinn, having just had his budget plan rejected by a General Assembly predominantly made up of people in his own Democratic party, sought to define the race as a contest between someone who stands up for education and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner, who has yet to disclose how he would pay to keep education funding intact.
“I’m the only one running for governor who has a plan to invest in education,” Quinn said. “The other people have nothing. It’s a sham. I think it’s time we call those folks out.”
At the news conference at Jane Addams Elementary School, Quinn added: “The other person is too timid, too fearful to lay out a plan.”
Quinn said he and staff are still going through the budget lawmakers sent his office and promised that education for this fiscal year would not suffer.
That could not be promised in future years without the help of the extension of a temporary income tax hike, which Quinn unsuccessfully pushed in his budget proposal.
“Now to be honest, if we don’t have the resources, in future fiscal years, we’ll be in trouble,” Quinn said. “So it’s important we win this battle.”
Rauner has opposed an extension to the temporary income tax hike from 3.75 to 5 percent and has called on rolling it back to 3 percent. Rauner has been criticized, however, for not explaining how he would pay for that. He has said he would roll out a budget “in due time.”
Quinn wouldn’t telegraph how he planned to act on a pending bill to help address two of four Chicago pension funds, which Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing. Quinn repeated, however, that he’s been clear that he opposes a reliance on property taxes.
Rauner’s campaign said he will make education a top priority and accused Quinn of fumbling proceeds from a 2011 tax hike and of cutting education by $600 million — something Quinn called false.
“A strong bipartisan majority in the legislature rejected Pat Quinn’s tax hike because they know it will hurt working families,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. “Quinn spent five years preserving a broken system and the result is another phony budget. Bruce will push structural reforms, beginning with term limits, that transform the way Springfield does business and make education a top priority.”