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Gov. Pat Quinn delivered his fifth budget address on Wednesday, calling it the most difficult spending plan he’s had to compile in his tenure as chief executive.

It would slash funding to schools, universities and local governments, while not offering a lot of exciting new programs in return.

While his numbers were in question and his methods were under review, some legislators said Quinn is at least improving in his delivery.

“First of all, I think the governor just made the best speech he’s ever given. I give him credit for that. I thought he framed the issues correctly, which is that when the pension payment goes up a billion dollars, something else has got to give,” said state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

For sure, the speech was devoid of the rambling that marked prior addresses. By clocking in at just 30 minutes, Quinn at least didn’t make new enemies.

Of course, there’s a big difference between the delivery of a speech and what’s actually said.

Let’s get back to Rose’s analysis: “I will say this though: What worries me about what he’s done here, it’s almost a declaration of war on downstate Illinois. He tore into downstate pretty good.”

Land of milk, cookies

Mayors from Marion to Moline were mad about the governor’s plan to siphon off income tax dollars that the state funnels to local governments.

Here’s what Carbondale Mayor Joel Fritzler had to say about Quinn’s gambit:

“Imagine the state of Illinois as a gourmet chocolate chip cookie made up of municipalities, like various sized chunks of fine chocolate, sprinkled all across the surface of the state.

“Apparently, the governor neither likes chocolate chip cookies nor understands what the ingredients are that make the state of Illinois a great state because he continues to pick us (municipalities) off one by one.

“Hopefully, the Illinois General Assembly will not go along with this ludicrous idea of dismantling Illinois, otherwise, sooner rather than later, the state of the state is going to be nothing more than an unsightly and tasteless blob of bleached white flour and Crisco.”

Netsch passing

Dawn Clark Netsch, the first woman to run a major party campaign for governor in 1994, passed away Tuesday at age 86.

The Democrat was a former Illinois comptroller and an 18-year veteran of the Illinois Senate.

The tributes rolled in last week. Here are a few:

Former Gov. Jim Edgar: “Dawn Clark Netsch was one of our state’s most influential public officials, and she was likely the most influential woman in Illinois state government over the last 50 years. She was a brilliant and thoughtful trailblazer and an honest advocate for the best in our government.”

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon: “Dawn Clark Netsch was a hero of mine since the early 1980s and a friend and mentor ever since. She was straightforward, a straight shooter and great at explaining state issues. She was not just a public servant, but a teacher.”

Attorney General Lisa Madigan: “Dawn Clark Netsch set the standard for integrity in public service. She led by example with relentless honesty, fierce independence and a passionate belief in civil liberty for all.”

Secretary of State Jesse White: “She was a leader who was ahead of her time and our state is better for her service. More than that, she was a consummate professional and a class act. It was my honor to call her a colleague and friend.”

Rich Republican running

Wealthy Wilmette hedge fund manager Bruce Rauner announced last week that he is actively considering a run for governor in 2014.

Rauner, a Republican, said he will mull his potential bid for the next two months to determine if he wants to take on more well-known Illinois pols like Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sens. Bill Brady of Bloomington and Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale or U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria.

All we can say is the odds are against him. Rich guys with no political experience have not fared well in Illinois elections. The list of recent casualties includes Andy McKenna, Blair Hull and Ron Gidwitz. Even ice cream magnate Jim Oberweis finally gave up on seeking statewide office and has now finally found a seat in the Illinois Senate where he can plot his way up the political ladder in a more traditional way.

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