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 both touched on the progress that was made in those five years in the wake of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was removed from office and on some of the goals he had for the future of the state.
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 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."
For the full speech, including video and a transcript, visit illinois.gov.
After his address, several local politicians weighed in on what the governor had to say (* from a press release):
*Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale
Illinois’ unemployment rate is still the fourth highest in the nation, and well above our neighboring states. In addition to the mountain of unpaid bills piling up and record debt levels, the reality is Illinois is facing tremendous obstacles. Pat Quinn thought he’d come out smelling like roses, but the reality stinks—it would take a lot of perfume to cover up the stench of our last-in-the-nation economic outlook.
We've seen both employers and residents driven out of Illinois by Quinn's ability to create economic stability and encourage job growth. Embarrassingly, a national survey of CEO's named Illinois the 3rd worst place in America to do business. Illinois should be a national economic leader, not a national pariah.
*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.
*Sen. Mike Connelly, R-Naperville
We are five years into Pat Quinn as Governor and the only pro-jobs initiative I heard today was the he, by Executive Order, appointed a small-business advocate. Governor, you are supposed to be the small-business advocate and the large-business advocate. You don't need to appoint anybody. So if that's your answer to being 50th in the country in jobs creation, I am very much disappointed.
*Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale
What we didn't hear from the Governor today was a commitment to faithfully implement the bipartisan, cost saving Medicaid health care reforms for the most vulnerable population in our state that he once championed and is now not fully supporting. Members of both parties worked too hard to achieve reforms to ensure that essential quality health care remains accessible to individuals and families across our state who need it most. We cannot turn our backs on them by letting politics get in the way of doing what’s right.
Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton
He started out on the right foot by recognizing the problem and recognizing it was a man-made disaster. When you recognize the problem and recognize that man created it, you realize man can fix it.
But even though he got that point right, his direction at the end really bothers me in that he called for additional spending without saying how he would afford that. Without recognizing why we won't have job growth [...], that we haven't reformed the budget, we heard a lot about a blueprint for a nanny state.