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Quinn signs campaign finance reform into law

December 9, 2009 4:53:09 PM PST
Governor Quinn has signed into law the state's first-ever limits on campaign contributions.The reforms were inspired by the scandal surrounding his predecessor Rod Blagojevich who was arrested on federal corruption charges one year ago.

The governor's office wanted grand political theatre when it scheduled the campaign finance bill signing on the anniversary of Rod Blagojevich's arrest.

But the ceremony and speeches would give way to a new reality that a year later, Illinois financial problems are an even greater concern than corruption.

The reform activists and the elected Democrats who watched Governor Pat Quinn sign the bill called it a step in the right direction.

"For the first time in Illinois history, there will be limits on the money coming into candidates at the front end of each campaign," said Peter Bensinger, reform activist.

The ceremony happened one year to the day that former Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges.

"The governor's office was the scene of a great scandal and we're doing something about it," said Governor Quinn.

Republicans did not support the bill. In part, because it does not limit donations to general election candidates by legislative leaders.

"If it doesn't limit the power of legislative leaders who have far too much power, it's not real ethics reform," saod Senator Kirk Dillard, (R) candidate for governor.

Another Republican said Quinn still won't fire dozens of Blagojevich appointees.

"He talks about what he's inherited but he's not changing anything. It only leads you to believe he was really part of the past."

After the signing ceremony, the news conference focused on Illinois' finances.

"Every state in the union right now is in fiscal peril," said Governor Quinn.

On Tuesday, the Moody's Investor service downgraded the state's credit rating. It cited the state's inability to resolve its $11 billion deficit before the February 2 primary election.

"The fact that the governor and the legislature aren't willing to deal with this until after February was problematic which is why we need action now," said Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, (D) Candidate for governor.

The governor said the state's credit rating could be upgraded immediately if lawmakers approved a scaled back pension system for incoming state workers, a plan opposed by Comptroller Hynes.

"We can save $150 billion over the next 30 years and that will give the rating agencies overnight confidence that we're moving forward when it comes to holding down costs," said Quinn.

Quinn said if state lawmakers in their upcoming regular session in January were to pass a pension reform bill he would sign it. At present, we know of no plan to vote on a pension reform bill or an income tax increase until after the primary.

The big question left to answer is does state government have enough money to maintain services until February 2.

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