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Official: Political mailer 'a stretch'

A top La Salle County official says an Illinois Nurses Association mailer against state representative candidate Jill Bernal seems "a bit of a stretch."
A top La Salle County official says an Illinois Nurses Association mailer against state representative candidate Jill Bernal seems "a bit of a stretch."

A new political mailer accuses Democratic state representative candidate Jill Bernal of helping Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner "break our family budgets and cut our health care."

But a top La Salle County official says the glossy flier seems "a bit of a stretch."

A few days ago, the Springfield-based Illinois Nurses Association sent a mailer to local Democrats comparing Bernal, a La Salle County Board member from Peru, to Rauner. It said Bernal, "just like Bruce Rauner, slammed through a dangerous health care plan that cuts access to critical care and increases premiums, making coverage unaffordable for our families."

The flier cites the County Board's meeting minutes from Jan. 9, 2014. At the meeting, the board unanimously approved contracts with two major unions, AFSCME and the Fraternal Order of Police, which included health-care provisions.

The board also unanimously adopted a resolution affecting nonunion employees, increasing the standard of eligibility for health insurance to 30 hours a week, from 20, with some workers grandfathered in.

In an interview, County Board Chairman Jerry Hicks, D-Marseilles, said the increase in hours was a cost-saving change that is standard for most places of employment. He said the change for the nonunion employees reflected union contracts.

Hicks said the county has no power over trends in health care costs and that both before and after 2014, the county paid an 80 percent share of employee premiums.

"I got the flier in the mail the other day. It seems like a bit of a stretch," he said. "I don't know what the hell they are saying."

In an interview, Bernal said she left a message with the Illinois Nurses Association's executive director Monday morning.

"They are supposed to call me. This really upsets me, because I'm a nurse. My license is current for 42 years now," Bernal said. "I just don't understand their motive here."

Association officials didn't return a message for comment.

Bernal's opponent, Lance Yednock, is not mentioned in the mailer.

Bernal and Yednock are running in Tuesday's Democratic primary in the 76th House District, which includes most of La Salle County.

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