Five years to the day after he was sworn in as governor, Pat Quinn delivered his 2014 State of the State address to the Illinois General Assembly.
In the Jan. 29 speech, Quinn discussed the progress made in those five years and his goals for the state’s future.
After his address, Lemont’s local politicians weighed in via news releases on what the Governor had to say.
State Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont
“There has been progress in some areas, but it would be a gross overstatement to say Illinois is on the right path. Unemployment remains high, we lag the nation in job growth and Illinois’ financial condition is weak. Despite the Governor’s ‘spin,’ this spring, we need to roll up our sleeves and tackle some very real problems …
“Gov. Quinn is pushing a minimum wage increase, even though the facts show increasing the minimum wage doesn’t lift people out of poverty. That is the wrong discussion and, frankly, it’s a distraction from the real issue. We should be focused on how to move people out of minimum wage jobs through the creation of good-paying positions and identifying ways to train and educate Illinois residents for these jobs.”
State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs
“I appreciated the positive tone of the Governor’s speech. He offered noble ideas, but we need to know the price tag. How we will pay for the new programs, and what areas of government will lose? While I am glad he is talking jobs, we should not be proud of 8.6 percent unemployment. We need to pass a responsible budget this spring, and a strong economic package that will turn our economy around and get people back to work.”
Quotes from Gov. Pat Quinn at the State of the State address
On pension reform:
"It was hard. It was painful. It took political courage. But together we got the job done. Today, we can tell the people of Illinois we stopped the bleeding. We turned the corner, and Illinois is making a comeback."
On providing more education resources to parents:
"By properly investing in our existing early learning programs and making this a budget priority … we can transform lives and save taxpayer money. But we can’t stop there. A parent is a child’s first teacher. Moms and dads play the most important role in promoting the healthy development of their kids. But not all families are equipped with the information and support they need to create healthy learning environments."
On increasing the minimum wage:
"Our minimum wage workers are doing hard work. They’re putting in long hours. Yet in too many instances, they are living in poverty. That’s not right. That’s not an Illinois value. And that’s not a fair shake. This is all about dignity and decency. So I said it last year and I’ll say it again: It’s time to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to at least $10 an hour."
On the death of Illinois Tollway worker Vincent Petrella and injury of Police Trooper Douglas Baulder:
"Illinois Tollway worker Vincent Petrella lost his life doing his job. Vincent was struck and killed on I-88 while helping a truck driver in distress. He served with the Tollway for 13 years. He leaves his wife Sandra and two young children behind. And we ask God to bless his immortal soul. ... Please join me in a moment of silence and prayer for Vincent Petrella and Trooper Douglas Baulder. In Illinois, we honor our heroes and we’re grateful for their service."
On what's next:
"So I ask today for your partnership. Together, we've weathered the worst man-made storm in our state's history. We've led Illinois' comeback one hard step at a time. We've worked to repair decades of damage. And we're getting the job done. Let's keep our shoulder to the wheel and finish the job. Let's make the will of the people the law of the land."
A major theme in Gov. Quinn's speech was progress the state has seen in the five years of his tenure. Numbers from the State of the State include:
• Infrastructure: 7,595 miles of roads, 1,311 bridges and 978 schools built and repaired in the last five years. Investment of more than $31 billion into infrastructure through the Illinois Jobs Now! Program.
• Jobs: 280,000 private sector jobs added since 2010.
• Water: More than $1 billion invested in clean water, including replacing water mains and upgrading sewers.
• College education: More than 30 percent increase in the number of residents graduating with degrees and career certificates
• Early education: $45 million being invested to build early education centers
• Health care: 144,000 more people have health coverage in Illinois than a year ago
Main policy points
• Raising the minimum wage to at least $10 per hour
• Creation of the Birth to Five Initiative, which connects parents to prenatal, educational and other resources
• Doubling the Monetary Award Program, which awards grants to residents who attend approved Illinois colleges
• Doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit
• Providing at least two earned sick days for every worker in Illinois
• Doubling the investment of the Clean Water Initiative
• Executive order for a Small Business Advocate to examine existing policies and proposals for effect on small businesses