Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jul 2010
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2010 The Sun-Times Co.
Author: Abdon M. Pallasch


As many as 50 people turned out Thursday night to see if the five
lesser-known candidates for governor had better ideas for solving the
state?s budget crisis than the two major-party candidates.

At this first debate of gubernatorial candidates at Chicago State
University ? skipped by Gov. Quinn and Republican nominee State Sen.
Bill Brady ? most of the candidates called for cutting taxes and spending

But Green Party candidate Rich Whitney ? who took 10 percent of the
vote last time around ? called for $3 billion more spending to pay for
free college for all Illinois students, funded in part by a tax on
real estate speculation, hiking the state income tax to 5 percent and
legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Whitney called ?crazy? and ?absurd? the current system under which
Quinn submitted, and the Legislature approved, a budget that spends
more than it takes in.

Whitney?s plan was more popular with students here than the ideas of
Libertarian Party candidate Lex Green and Constitution Party candidate
Michael White, who backed easier access to loans for students instead
of scholarships.

?If you?re receiving money from the state, you?re not going to like my
answer,? Green told the students. ?Since 2003, tuition has gone up 10
percent, professors? pay has gone up on average about 20 percent.
Administrative pay has gone up 100 percent. Non-administrative workers
? their pay has gone up 280 percent. Every program is not helping
students, it?s subsidizing the employment of government workers.?

Independent candidate for governor Scott Lee Cohen, a pawn broker,
said, ?Every year, legislators are given grants, scholarships to give
away: 1,600 scholarships, $13 million. Is there one student in this
room who received one of those scholarships??

No hands went up.

?I didn?t think so,? Cohen said.

William ?Dock? Walls, who was knocked off the Democratic ballot for
governor by Quinn?s allies, blasted Quinn often Thursday and the two
major parties

?They make it as hard as they can to run as an independent,? Walls
said. ?You want somebody fresh. You want somebody new.?

Walls? proposal for bringing new money into the state budget is to
throw open naming rights to state buildings such as the Thompson Center.

Green said by cutting spending on health and education back to 2008
levels, ?We really aren?t doing anything Draconian.?

Whitney vehemently disagreed.

?I don?t think we can possibly agree that it?s not Draconian to make
further cuts in health and education,? Whitney said. ?We cannot
possibly continue this way: teachers getting pink slips, class sizes
getting higher. This is Draconian. We already have one of the most
regressive tax systems in Illinois. There are probably about 70,000
mental health services recipients in the state of Illinois that will
be kicked out of community-based services, and most of them are
probably going to end up in prison or in homeless shelters.?

But just when it seemed Green and Whitney disagreed on everything,
Green said he favored legalizing marijuana to fight gang violence in

Whitney is the only one of the five candidates assured a spot on the
November ballot. The other four have all had their petitions
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt