Quinn: We don’t need advice from ‘some guy from Jersey’
By Dave McKinney Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief January 25, 2011 5:06PM
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has launched ads ripping the recent tax hikes in Illinois. | AP
Updated: April 30, 2011 4:46AM
SPRINGFIELD — Another day. Another Republican governor taking potshots at Gov. Quinn and the whopping income-tax increase he helped implement this month.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared in a series of ads that debuted Tuesday in Illinois media touting his state’s business climate and asking, “Had enough of outrageous tax increases?”
Christie’s jabs came on the same day it was learned that the federal Securities and Exchange Commission had opened an “inquiry” into cost-savings estimates from the Quinn administration from a 2010 pension-overhaul law.
Asked about Christie, Quinn spared no time Tuesday whipping off the gloves and swinging back at his New Jersey counterpart, who came to Illinois last fall to campaign for the governor’s unsuccessful GOP rival, state Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington).
“I don’t know why anybody would listen to him,” Quinn said of Christie. “New Jersey’s way of balancing the budget is not to pay their pension payment, not to deliver on property tax relief that was promised, to fire teachers, to take an infrastructure project — building a tunnel that had already been started — and end it and have to pay money back to the federal government. I don’t need that kind of advice from that guy.”
The governor went on to herald Illinois’ nine straight months of declining unemployment and ridiculed New Jersey’s business climate, which Quinn said ranked “48th in the nation.”
“We don’t need some guy from Jersey to tell us how to do things in the land of Lincoln,” Quinn said.
A call and email to Christie’s press staff seeking reaction to Quinn’s remarks were not returned Tuesday.
Christie’s taxpayer-funded jabs at Illinois represent the latest hostile incursion from Republican governors hoping to lure tax-weary Illinois businesses to relocate after Quinn and the Democratic-led Legislature boosted the state’s corporate income tax by 46 percent and the individual income tax rate by 67 percent earlier this month.
In a round of media interviews or media buys, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and the GOP mayor of Indianapolis quickly went on the offensive after the tax hike was implemented to woo Illinois companies to their states.
In more fallout from the state’s budget crisis, Quinn faced questions Tuesday about an SEC inquiry launched in September that his administration only now disclosed in documents that are part of a $3.7 billion bond to be sold in the next few weeks. The borrowing will cover the state’s obligation this year to its five pension systems.
In the filing, the state indicated it was told by the SEC that its inquiry was not an indication that federal securities laws had been broken. Quinn’s budget office declined to release the bond document without an open-records request that could take five days to fulfill despite it being in the hands of bond-rating agencies and in the public domain.
Quinn, meanwhile, downplayed the SEC inquiry, and an aide insisted the questions about $300 million in potential savings from last year’s pension-reforms, which raised the retirement age to 67 for new state workers, did not rise to the level of a formal investigation.
“It’s an inquiry, a non-public, confidential inquiry. They just wanted to look at the bill we passed a couple of years ago and pension borrowing. But I don’t see any problem there at all,” Quinn said.
“We are totally confident that everything we do here is done the right way, and that’s the way it will always be,” the governor said.
SEC spokeswoman Florence Harmon declined comment on the matter.
Contributing: Kim Janssen