Gov. Pat Quinn delivered his fifth State of the State address in Springfield Wednesday. (Photo from Flickr)
By WJBC staff
SPRINGFIELD - 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.
Prepared remarks from Wednesday's speech made only scattered references to the state's massive deficit in funding its public pension system. But a need for solving the $96 billion problem ran as an undercurrent throughout the address.
"This problem cannot be delayed, deferred or delegated to the next session or to the next generation," Quinn said.
State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) said Quinn's calls for pension reform have been only rhetoric.
"If I were governor, we'd solve this pension crisis. We'd pay back the nine billion dollars that we owe our vendors, from colleges to schools to human service providers," he said.
It also renewed a plea for a ban on sales of military-style assault weapons and wants county officials to better report mental health records of potential gun owners. He asked lawmakers to move forward with strong public safety legislation. He says Illinois must prohibit the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
"We cannot wait for another tragedy to happen before we take action," Quinn said. "We must move forward with a comprehensive plan that includes gun safety legislation, mental health care and violence prevention strategies."
He says lawmakers should also pass legislation requiring every Illinois school to practice active safety drills.
Quinn also sought a 20 percent minimum-wage increase, to $10 an hour. He says nobody should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty. The federal rate has been $7.25 an hour since 2007.
A proposal to raise the minimum wage came up in the state Senate last year but wasn't called for a floor vote.
Quinn says he's signed an executive order designed to help military veterans get jobs. The order calls for state agencies to streamline the process for veterans applying for job licenses. Quinn says the agencies should consider the veterans' special skills and allow them to skip the extra training that some licenses require.
Manufacturing lab for companies
He proposed the so-called Illinois Manufacturing Lab during his State of the State address. The Chicago Democrat says the lab will be established through a partnership between the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications and private companies.
The lab would let manufacturers simulate supply chains, train workers and use new technology, among other things. It will be started with $5 million from the state and $5 million raised from private businesses.
Quinn says the idea will help close the make Illinois manufacturers more competitive.
Quinn says it's time for Illinois to allow gay marriage.
He praised senators who moved a bill out of committee earlier this week and says it's time to pass the bill so Illinois can achieve "full equality.''
"Marriage equality is coming to Illinois," Quinn said. "Let's pass this bill for marriage equality and let's do it now."
If Illinois approves gay marriage, it would become the 10th state in the nation to do so.
However, Sen. Brady said lawmakers need to focus on pensions and not same-sex marriage.
"While Illinois is crumbling, Quinn is fiddling around in a whole host of areas," Brady said. "We happen to disagree on this issue but I don't think anyone would say this is the highest priority confronting Illinois."