Quinn to talk economy in State of the State

January 31, 2012 3:02:58 PM PST
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to highlight jobs and economic development during his State of the State address on Wednesday.

As he announced Illinois' first investments in startup companies, the governor said his third State of the State speech would not detail his plans for pension and Medicaid reform. That, he promised, would come during his budget presentation in Springfield on February 22nd.

Wednesday's address to the general assembly will focus on economic development as a means to fiscal health.

"There's no other way to have a better budget than to make sure that we have a dynamic economy that's creating jobs for middle-class, hard-working people in Illinois," said Quinn.

In a report released Monday, Chicago's Civic Federation projected a $34.8-billion bill backlog for the state by 2017 if the general assembly does not pass pension and Medicaid reforms during the upcoming legislative session.

In a video statement, State Senate President John Cullerton says he wants to pass a measure to borrow money to pay off the state's current $5 billion bill backlog.

"That would help the economy; that would make people who do business with the state feel more comfortable in doing so," said Cullerton.

However, the Civic Federation report said the state cannot afford to pay the interest on new bonds.

"There is no room in the state budget for additional borrowing," said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation. "Any sort of long-term borrowing that the state would do would require you to cut even more from the programs."

Quinn hinted that he will spend significant time in his speech recalling his administration's successes including a revived Illinois auto-making industry.

"When I became governor, we had one shift at Ford Motor Company on the South Side of Chicago. Now we're on the verge of three shifts," said Quinn. "And then we'll be talking later this week about Chrysler. There's something really special coming to Chrysler right here in Illinois."

Quinn referred to reports last week that Chrysler planned to add 400 to 500 jobs at its far north suburban Belvidere plant.

The delivers his State of the State address to a joint House/Senate session in Springfield at noon Wednesday.