Illinois Governor Pat Quinn gave his State of the State address this week. He repeatedly hammered a theme of political courage during his speech to the General Assembly.
"With courage, hard is not impossible. We are not a state – we are not a people – that shies away from hard things."
Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability and Quinn calls it the ``toughest of issues'' in the state. But the governor says the pension problem threatens Illinois' economic recovery and legislators must act...
"This problem cannot be delayed, deferred or delegated to the next session or the next generation."
Business groups are backing the governor's call for a pension overhaul. The Illinois Manufacturers' Association released a statement today saying “the time for talk is over.” The Illinois Chamber of Commerce called pensions “the single most pressing public policy issue.”
The Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association came out strongly against Quinn's proposal to raise Illinois' minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 an hour. The Chamber says raising the minimum wage is ``an untimely, ill-advised and outrageous proposal.''
Quinn says Illinois should join dozens of other states that have banned conflict of interest voting. He wants lawmakers to recuse themselves from taking a vote or other official action if there's a conflict.
Quinn renewed his call for an assault weapons ban in Illinois, along with a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The governor also said the state should approve same sex marriage, saying it's time for Illinois to achieve “full equality.” The State Senate could vote on the issue next week.
Republican lawmakers were critical of the governor’s speech, saying he spoke more about spending than cutting.
Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno summed it up in just a few words.
“By and large, I thought it was more of a campaign speech than anything else.”
And to Republican State Senator Bill Brady, who plans to run for governor next year, the speech only highlighted the failures of Quinn’s governorship. State Representative Bob Pritchard says the governor offered up more spending, but no funding. State Senator Dave Syverson says stressing the need for everyone to pull together was a nice sentiment, but it’s time for the governor to be less of a cheerleader and more of a surgeon.
“We can have pain today or we can put it off and have significantly more pain down the road when we finally do the adult thing and address those issues.”
The governor is, of course, expected to talk more specifically about the state’s financial woes in his budget address, which is still a month away.
You can read the full transcript of the Governor's State of the State Address at http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/Documents/State%20of%20the%20State/State%20of%20the%20State%202013.pdf