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Kirk votes against teachers funding bill--after hinting he might be for it.

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By Abdon M. Pallasch
Sun-Times Political Writer


Just a day after Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk said he was "inclined" to vote for a $26 billion "jobs bill" to funnel federal money to the states to stave off teacher lay-offs, Kirk voted against it.

The Democratic-sponsored bill passed anyway.

"When I returned to Washington for this special session, I read [Senate] Leader Reid's bill and found it spent more, taxed more and borrowed more than any of the past bills I supported," Kirk said in a written statement. "I did not support the Reid bill because it added $16 billion in new Medicaid spending and levied another $9 billion in new, permanent tax increases. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill adds over $12 billion to our deficit. As a fiscal conservative, I could not support this bill and will work to cut spending, taxing and borrowing in this and future Congresses."

Actually, the CBO found that by cutting food-stamp spending on the poor and closing tax loopholes for companies that do business overseas, the bill adds only $5 billion to the deficit, according to CBO documents. The bill provides $10 billion states can use mainly to keep paying teachers and $16 billion to fund Medicaid. That Medicaid money would free states to spend more on police and teachers.

On Monday, after speaking to the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, Kirk had said, "I'm inclined to vote for that legislation. ... As a Republican moderate, my view is we should not add to the deficit. This legislation does make a number of cuts ... that make it deficit-neutral. And it would keep teachers in the classroom. I will read further details, but I expect to be supporting this."

Almost immediately after Kirk's vote Tuesday afternoon, his Democratic opponent for U.S. Senator, Alexi Giannoulias, criticized him:

"After today's vote it is clear that Congressman Kirk didn't just lie about being a teacher, he lied about supporting them," Giannoulias said in a written statement. "I am stunned that he would vote against an emergency bill to keep teachers in the classroom -- a bill that is completely paid for and will save at least 5,700 teaching jobs right here in Illinois. Congressman Kirk's vote today proves he is a typical Washington politician who will always side with the corporate special interests and against Illinois families and Illinois teachers."

As Kirk finished his speech to the council Monday, three protesters rose to shout "Jobs now!" and "Why are you taking $1.6 million dollars from the big banks and voting against jobs?" A handful of protesters held signs outside the event criticizing Kirk for presumably being inclined to vote against the jobs bill.

Moments later, Kirk revealed to reporters that he intended to vote for the Democratic-sponsored bill, only to vote against it today.


Kirk in a statement said, "Illinois is suffering the consequences of our state's failed leadership. These failures put the federal government in a difficult situation. When I returned to Washington for this special session, I read Leader Reid's bill and found it spent more, taxed more and borrowed more than any of the past bills I supported. I did not support the Reid bill because it added $16 billion in new Medicaid spending and levied another $9 billion in new, permanent tax increases.

"According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill adds over $12 billion to our deficit. As a fiscal conservative, I could not support this bill and will work to cut spending, taxing and borrowing in this and future Congresses."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 10, 2010 5:44 PM.

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