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Chillicothe Times-Bulletin - Chillicothe, IL
  • Statehouse Insider: At least Quinn's speech sounded nice

  • SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. PAT QUINN delivered his annual State of the State speech Wednesday and the reaction was largely predictable.
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  • SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. PAT QUINN delivered his annual State of the State speech Wednesday and the reaction was largely predictable.
    Most Republicans complained that Quinn showed a lack of leadership, a standard reaction from the minority party. Business groups decried his call for raising the minimum wage, hardly a surprising reaction to that issue. Others complained the speech lacked details, another standard reaction.
    But look, state government goes through cycles, and right now the cycle is one of crushing financial problems. Finances are something discussed in much more detail during the budget address that will happen in March.
    The state’s financial problems mean the door isn’t open to shiny new initiatives that are going to cost money. Quinn latched onto proposals that will play well to his Democratic constituency — especially in the Chicago metropolitan area — and not add to the state’s financial problems.
    Raise the minimum wage? It may not pass, but at least Quinn was out front calling for an increase that may solidify his standing with low-income workers. Businesses will have to pay the higher wage, not the state.
    Approving same-sex marriage? It appears on its way to happening, and Quinn can claim credit when it does. It, too, doesn’t cost the state anything.
    The jury’s still out on what kind of concealed-carry law Illinois will pass and if it will enact gun-control measures Quinn wants. Again, banning the sale of some weapons and ammunition magazines and restricting where concealed guns can be carried is not a budget buster.
    After the speech, Comptroller JUDY BAAR TOPINKA said that at least Quinn has learned how to deliver a speech since he became governor in 2009. Until Illinois’ financial mess is fixed, that may be the highest praise you can expect for a State of the State address.
    * ”I will feel as good as long as it takes me to get from this floor down to my office and look at all of the unpaid bills. I’m not going to feel good again.” Topinka on how long Quinn’s feel-good speech will make her feel good.
    “He’s been governor for four years now. It’s time to start filling out the suit.” Sen. MATT MURPHY, R-Palatine, disappointed that Quinn didn’t get into the pension issue in more detail.
    * “I know we did it once before for Quinn, and I know we did it for what’s-his-name. The guy who’s still in the slammer.” Rep. BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE, D-Chicago, recalling times when the General Assembly gave the governor more time to prepare his budget address.
    Page 2 of 2 - * “I think they are awful. There is no redeeming value in the games that I sometimes see my son play. I think these things are awful for kids.” House Republican Leader TOM CROSS, R-Oswego, critiquing some of the video games played by his 6-year-old.
    * We Are One Illinois, the coalition of public employee labor unions, released the results of a poll it commissioned on how voters feel about public pensions and efforts to change them. It’s not surprising the results favored the unions’ position.
    Of course, how the questions were worded may have helped. The very first one included this:
    “Public employees say they are middle-class workers like teachers, police and caregivers and the budget problems are caused mostly because rich people and big corporations don’t pay their fair share. Which do you agree with more?” Nothing slanted about that, although only 50 percent said it was the corporations’ fault.
    Several other questions dealt with cutting benefits, and most respondents opposed that idea. However, none of the questions posed it as a choice between cutting benefits and something that might affect the respondents, like raising taxes or cutting education spending.
    Maybe then the results would have been different.
    Doug Finke covers the state Capitol for GateHouse News Service. Follow him at twitter.com/DougFinkeSJR.
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