Gov. Quinn talks past 6 years in office, future plans at City Club of Chicago

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Quinn, whose first swearing in happened after his predecessor was impeached and ousted, has no regrets about his six years in office. (WLS)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn reflected on the past and talked about his future in an emotional address at the City Club in Chicago on Tuesday.

Quinn, whose first swearing in happened after his predecessor was impeached and ousted, has no regrets about his six years in office.

The audience, most of them tried and true Democrats, welcomed the governor with a standing ovation. Then Quinn, who lost his re-election bid only two months ago, remembered what he called the "grim" ethical and economic situation the state was in when he took office in 2009.

"We had to rescue our state and our state's economy and we had to make some tough decisions to do that," Quinn said.

Quinn cited the state's still-falling unemployment rate; his $31 billion capital bill that he says created 400,000 jobs; Medicaid, pension and workmen's compensation reform as well as bills abolishing the death penalty and insuring marriage equality.

"Six years ago, not everyone was able to marry the person they love. Now they are," Quinn said.

During his speech, Quinn did not respond to incoming Republican Governor-elect Bruce Rauner's observation that the state's fiscal situation is in worse condition than Rauner expected. And Quinn did not talk about the special legislative session he has called for Thursday for lawmakers to consider a 2016 special election to replace the late Illinois comptroller Judy Barr Topinka.

"I think if there's a vacancy it should be filled as soon as possible by a vote of the people," Quinn said.

"I think it's a last grasp at relevance from the governor," said State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.

But Republicans want Rauner's appointee to serve Topinka's entire term, with a goal to combine the comptroller and treasurer's offices with a constitutional amendment.

"I think that would be a better use of everybody's time and money," said State Sen. Murphy.

Gov. Quinn would not answer when asked if he'd consider running again for public office. But he did say he would not leave the public arena, where he has fought for nearly four decades as an activist.

"I look forward to organizing causes that can get the people's voice heard," Quinn said.

Quinn also said he hoped lawmakers in special session this week consider raising the state's minimum wage. However, there's does not appear to be support in the House of Representatives to move such a bill by Thursday.

Rauner will be inaugurated on Monday of next week.

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