Two state senators from our area say Gov. Pat Quinn's Feb. 6 State of the State speech failed to address Illinois' two most-serious problems: financial insolvency and pension reform.
“His support of Senate Bill 1, the public pension reform bill, doesn’t go nearly far enough," said state Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove. "Senate Bill 1 only solves a small part of our problem—if that is all we do, we’ll be back here facing the problem again in another year or two. We ought to do the right things now to fix this problem on a long-term basis."
State Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-South Elgin, said she would be looking forward to Quinn's budget address next month, "to see specifically how he intends to accomplish" new programs he's put on his wish list.
Quinn's 38-minute speech included a push to raise the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour, tighter gun control legislation and legalization of gay marriage, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. You can read the full text of Quinn's speech on the NBC Chicago website.
A Chicago Tribune editorial called the speech "long on inspiration, longer on easy aspiration, but brief on the financial disaster that is the true state of the state."
Which is pretty much what Oberweis and McConnuaghay said.
"Illinois cannot get back on track until we make a fierce determination to develop fiscal discipline,” McConnaughay said in a press release. “As a former executive in county government I understand the challenges facing Gov. Quinn, but establishing the right priorities and a commitment to fiscal discipline starts at the top.”
Oberweis also said Quinn's priorities were skewed.
“I was very pleased that the governor took time to talk about the very, very serious financial situation that our state is facing. Unfortunately, his speech did nothing to improve the ‘business unfriendly’ status of Illinois,” he said.
The 25th District senator said he is willing to work with Gov. Quinn and his fellow lawmakers to right Illinois’ budget wrongs.
McConnaughay said she is concerned some of the governor's new programs are unaffordable and should not be launched when the state cannot pay for the programs it already has.
“In your household you would not plan a vacation with a hole in your roof; similarly we in the legislature cannot speak of costly endeavors when there are more pressing concerns," she said.