Quinn delivers State of the State address

Ill. Governor Pat Quinn delivers the 2010 State of the State speech.

January 14, 2010 4:32:42 AM PST
Governor Pat Quinn wants a big income tax overhaul in Illinois. In his first formal State of the State address Wednesday, the governor did not specifically call for a tax increase, but he did say the state needs more tax revenue as it faces a huge budget crisis. It was a speech long on sentiment but short on substance. Governor Pat Quinn choked up as he talked about his late father but passed up an opportunity to get into detail on digging the state out of the fiscal abyss.

"I do believe we need more revenue," Quinn said.

Those seven words, uttered 47 minutes into the governor's ad-libbed speech, are the ones that are sparking the most heated debate.

"After cutting costs, after strategic borrowing, after getting as much money as we can from the federal government, we're still short," said Quinn.

"Bottom line: just like families and businesses, there have to be cuts made," said Bob Schillerstrom, (R) candidate for governor.

"Governor Quinn had a year. There's not leadership there. He bounces around on policy like a pinball," said State Sen. Kirk Dillard, (R) candidate for governor.

"Things are getting worse, not better," said Comptroller Dan Hynes, (D) candidate for governor.

Quinn's Democratic opponent in the primary, Hynes, supports raising taxes on those making more $200,000 a year, but he says the governor is borrowing his way into bankruptcy.

"Our budget crisis has grown from $9 billion to $13 billion under his watch," Hynes said. "We've borrowed close to $6 billion this year alone, which is more than Rod Blagojevich borrowed in four previous years combined."

The governor says he has cut expenses by $2 billion. He counts as victories: A roads and infrastructure program and plans to sell the Thomson prison to the feds for use as a terrorist detention center.

Quinn admits it was a mistake for his prison chief to release some inmates after only 60 days simply to save money.

"Those people were going to be released in the next 60 days anyway. I don't think that gaffe will hurt Governor Quinn," said State Sen. James Meeks, (D) Chicago South Side.

Many legislators like Pat Quinn and say they respect his integrity. But that only gets you so far in this town, especially when you give a 1 hour, 20-minute off-the-cuff speech.

"Governor Quinn broke a record today, it's an historic day. He gave one of the longest speeches ever heard in the General Assembly," said State Sen. Martin Sandoval, (D) Chicago Southwest Side.

One more reason legislators were looking at their watches: We are just three weeks away from a primary election. So, if you thought House lawmakers were going to stick around Springfield, roll up their sleeves and get to work, you would be mistaken. They will next be back in session February 3.