Gov. Quinn addresses gun violence, minimum wage in State of the State speech

February 6, 2013 8:18:07 PM PST
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's fifth State of the State address focused on Quinn's successes on job creation, spending cuts and help for veterans.

But the governor's ideas are getting a lot of criticism. They say the governor didn't spend anywhere near enough of time discussing the pension crisis. Quinn spent more of his minutes during his 2013 State of the State Address touting positive developments since he took office four years ago.

"We have made strong progress in the last four years," said Quinn.

During much of his 35-minute speech, the governor talked about what has gone right in Illinois since he took office in 2009, from the multi-billion dollar public construction jobs program, a resurgent auto industry, to ethics and Medicaid reform.

"We overhauled our Medicaid program and saved it from the brink of collapse," Quinn said.

The governor urged lawmakers to raise the Illinois minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour, proposed online voter registration and open primary elections in which participants don't declare party affiliations.

But some Republican critics, including those possibly running for Quinn's job next year, complained the Democratic governor did not focus enough on resolving the state's worst-in-the-nation $97 billion pension debt.

"Pat Quinn, with the legislature controlled by his own party, has done nothing in four years on our state's biggest problem, which is pension reform," said Senator Kirk Dillard, (R) Hinsdale.

"He raised taxes by billions of dollars and we still have $9 billion in unpaid bills," said Senator Bill Brady, (R) Bloomington.

Even Democrats like Attorney General Lisa Madigan and former U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley are "considering" challenging Quinn for the party's nomination.

"I think people have a right to run. I think the people that you mention all have ideas," said State Representative Al Riley, (D) Olympia Fields.

"That's the power of democracy, everyone can run," said State Senator Iris Martinez, (D) Chicago. " Right now, I think that what Governor Quinn and this General Assembly is worried about is the pension crisis that we have."

The governor did address the pension debt crisis near the end of his speech, saying the state's future depends on resolving it before the end of the current legislative session.

"This problem cannot be delayed, deferred or delegated until the next session," said Quinn.

The Illinois House, however, did not share the governor's sense of urgency. Speaker Michael Madigan adjourned the chamber shortly after the governor finished speaking.