Republican David Paul Blumenshine is casting himself as the true fiscal conservative in his second bid to unseat longtime legislator Dan Brady.
Brady, the 10-term Illinois House GOP lawmaker from Bloomington, debated the issues with the Bloomington-Normal real estate broker Thursday in a WGLT and McLean County League of Women Voters candidates forum at the Illinois State University Alumni Center.
“We need to cut taxes, we need to freeze them, we need to cut spending,” Blumenshine declared. “It’s not going to be easy. It took us 20 years to get here.”
Brady is seeking re-election in the 105th House District, which includes parts of Bloomington-Normal and much of northeastern McLean County and parts of Ford and Livingston counties.
Video: Watch Thursday's candidates forum.
Brady said the minority party has to compromise and last year helped stave off $650 million in additional taxes.
“I’m all for fiscal responsibility of belt tightening when it comes to Springfield and if it was up to me, in the House of Representatives, it would be different. But it’s not and I have to work with the majority party and I have to represent the 105th District," Brady said.
The debate got testy when Blumenshine cited a 2018 McLean County advisory referendum that showed voters overwhelmingly support term limits.
“Ninety-two percent Mr. Brady,” Blumenshine said.
“The same (voters) who put me back in office,” Brady replied.
“But they put you back in office before you raised the gas tax and 19 other taxes and voted for a capital bill and now we are $250 billion in the hole,” Blumenshine said.
Brady countered by calling Blumenshine the “king of fiction.”
Blumenshine pledged he'd serve no more than eight years if elected. Legislators serve two-year terms in the Illinois House.
Brady touted increases in higher education funding, particularly for Illinois State University and capital funding for its Fine Arts complex, paid for with a 19-cent gas tax increase Blumenshine railed against. Brady supported the bipartisan $45 billion capital plan.
“The capital bill that doesn’t pay for jobs, the capital bill that doesn’t keep this state and this particular university functioning as one of the largest economic engines and employers in my district,” Brady snarked.
Blumenshine called the state's school funding formula a Ponzi scheme that hurts the people who need help the most.
“I want the money in the classroom, I want the money to go to teachers, not to bureaucrats,” Blumenshine said.
On climate change and efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, Brady pointed to the Future Energy Jobs Act, a large energy bill making its way through Springfield that would improve energy efficiency and protect consumers.
“The way to do that and the way to start is not having the energy companies writing the legislation,” Brady said.
Blumenshine touted fossil fuels and called for more research as he questions claims about renewable energy's affordability.
“There’s so much conflicting information out there on what is going on when it comes to climate change,” Blumenshine said.
Both candidates backed a nonpartisan process to draw legislative maps and both advocated additional ethics reforms.
Brady, an assistant Republican leader in the House, defeated Blumenshine by a nearly 3-to-1 margin in the 2018 GOP primary.
Normal Town Council member Chemberly Cummings is the only Democrat running for the 105th House seat. She would face the winner between Brady and Blumenshine in November.
The Illinois primary election is March 17.
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