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Is Illinois Republican Governor Candidate Bill Brady a True Fiscal Conservative?

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The news today that the State of Illinois owes the University of Illinois $317 million but has paid only $400,000, reported by Paul Wood at the Champaign News-Gazette, must graphically remind Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois legislature that the Illinois budget is cratering under its crushing expenses and dwindling income.

In fact, the Illinois budget has $3 billion of unpaid bills on its hands. The U of I represents only 10% of that debt pile.

That got us thinking.

Illinois budget's basic problem is that its expenses exceed its income -- highlighted by the University of Illinois' budget plight, a plight which may bring another conservative fiscal scolding by a lawmaker angling for Quinn's job -- State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington).

Brady has branded himself as an ultra fiscal conservative -- the spend-only-what-you-earn type.

In March, when Quinn introduced his proposed budget that included an income tax, Brady berated Quinn, citing the families-must-balance-their-budget homily.

"Just as families do around their kitchen tables, state government needs to take full stock of its cash availability and make the necessary cuts to bring that budget into balance," Brady said on March 18, 2009. "The people of Illinois today are making do with less. State government should be no different."

The funny thing about Brady's fiscal conservatism is that he -- when he had the chance -- failed to practice budget-balancing himself.

When Brady ran for governor in 2006, he so overspent his campaign income that three years later his campaign is still saddled with a whopping $652,762.91 debt. When his campaign expenses exceeded campaign income -- Brady borrowed. Just like the State of Illinois has done to pay its bills.

What's the difference?

Rather than "... make the necessary cuts to bring that budget into balance," Brady whipped out his credit card to pay the bills. Sound familiar?

To his credit, Brady left no vendors in the lurch. He paid those bills. He owes the money to himself and three banks.

From Brady's campaign finance statement filed with the Illinois Board of Elections:

* $351,750 -- Owed to Bill Brady
* $41,047.91 -- Owed to Commerce Bank, Bloomington, IL
* $200,000.00 -- First Bank, Saint Louis, MO
* $59,965.00 -- Owed to Heartland Bank and Trust, Bloomington, IL

If the 'fiscal conservative' Brady is, however, willing to ignore his "balanced budget" philosophy on his own campaign and drive it deeply in debt, why should Illinois voters have any confidence he won't do the same further with the Illinois budget as Governor?

Why believe Brady's "balanced budget" drivel when he refuses to practice what he preaches?

It's a question Brady's opponents -- Jim Ryan, Andy McKenna, Dan Proft, Kirk Dillard, Bob Schillerstrom, and Adam Andrzejewski should ask.

And if Brady emerges victorious from the 2010 Illinois Republican governor primary, Pat Quinn and Dan Hynes must ask him that question.

Someone should.