A brief respite from election-year campaign ads ended Friday when Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner took to the TV airwaves to criticize Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, making use of the governor’s own words on jobs, schools and taxes.
The debut of the 30-second ad marks the end of about a month of broadcast quiet between the two major candidates for governor in the Nov. 4 general election. Rauner aides would not say whether it also marked the beginning of a sustained air attack on Quinn, but the Democratic governor’s campaign used the ad to solicit campaign contributions, saying in an email that Rauner “has no shortage of money to fund this trash.”
The ad begins with a narrator saying, “When you hear Pat Quinn’s false attacks, remember his broken promises.” The ad, however, does not say what the Rauner campaign considers those “false attacks” to be.
But the spot does hit Quinn for promoting a public works construction program that the governor has said would create 400,000 jobs. The narrator responds by saying “Under Quinn, Illinois leads the Midwest in job losses.”
Federal statistics show from January 2011 through January 2014 — the first three years of Quinn’s term — Illinois was last among the 10 Midwest states as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics with a job growth rate of 3.3 percent and 162,000 jobs added during the time period.
The ad also shows Quinn delivering a budget address to lawmakers with the governor saying,
“Another area that we are not cutting is education.” The narrator responds by saying “Quinn cut $500 million, causing teacher layoffs and crowded classrooms.”
In a fact sheet on public education funding issued in April, the State Board of Education says that since July 2008, months before Quinn took office after Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment, there have been nearly $2.7 billion in funding reductions “that have led to the loss of thousands of teachers and aides (and) increased class sizes.”
The ad also goes after Quinn for raising the state’s income tax. It quotes Quinn’s original plan, which included a substantial increase in the personal exemption so that “a family of four will not pay higher taxes.” Ultimately, the personal exemption increase Quinn sought never occurred and the tax rate was boosted by 67 percent.
“Pat Quinn, a broken record of broken promises,” the narrator concludes.
Quinn’s campaign contended Rauner’s allegation that the governor cut education funding was “false,” but their math counts non-classroom dollars that Quinn used to fully fund annual teacher pension contributions.
Quinn’s camp also noted state unemployment, 7.5 percent in May, was lower than when the governor took office. To counter the economic statistics, the Democratic governor pointed to projections from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia forecasting Illinois’ economy will increase almost 2.5 percent in the final half of 2014 — more than any other state in the Midwest.
The commercial is airing in Chicago, Rockford, Peoria and Champaign through July 20, said one person familiar with the advertising contract but who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Meanwhile Rauner told reporters in Springfield he believed a state audit panel should continue to investigate the troubled $54.5 million anti-violence grant program Quinn launched shortly before his 2010 election. The federal Department of Justice had asked the Legislative Audit Commission to defer speaking to witnesses for 90 days while federal prosecutors have convened a criminal grand jury.
“I believe their investigation can be done in parallel with the federal investigation. They can respect each other and not interfere with each other. I believe that the commission will make the right decision on how to handle that,” Rauner said. The audit panel is to decide how to proceed with witnesses it previously subpoenaed next week.