Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Quinn Touts "Our Illinois" In State of State Address

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    NEWSLETTERS

    "We have moved Illinois forward," Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday. "But we have much more to do. At this point, each and every one of us has a choice to make about what we want our Illinois to look like."

    Gov. Pat Quinn touted a "shared Illinois" in his fourth State of the State address, calling for online voter registration, a ban on assault weapons, a minimum wage increase, pension reform and marriage equality.

    "We have moved Illinois forward," Quinn said, "but we have much more to do. At this point, each and every one of us has a choice to make about what we want our Illinois to look like."

    As the clock ticks down in Springfield for lawmakers to re-write the law to allow concealed carry, Quinn on Wednesday pushed for background checks for online gun buyers and requirements for gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons within 24 hours.

    Quoting the Old Testament, Quinn said "our hearts break everyday" with news of another shooting victim. He said he spoke with the parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was gunned down last week in a Chicago park, and said "there are no words in the English language or any other language" that can heal their heartbreak.

    Quinn said concealed weapons should not be allowed anywhere near busy public places like schools, malls, sports stadiums and government buildings. He also wants to require all Illinois schools to practice active-shooter safety drills.

    "I ask you to move forward with strong public safety legislation that will safeguard the people of Illinois," he said. "We must prohibit the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in Illinois."

    Quinn also said he wants to make changes at the polls, allowing open primaries in Illinois without requiring the declaration of a party affiliation. Quinn hopes it will increase voter registration, which is why he also called for online voter registration.

    It's a controversial issue, but the biggest controversy looms over the state's pension reform. As the pension debt blooms to nearly $97 billion, lawmakers still need to work out a deal.

    Do we want, in the years to come, a prosperous Illinois where working people continue to have good jobs, where businesses thrive and where all our children have a world-class education?
    Or do we want to stop the progress and watch our economic recovery stall?"

    Another push residents heard about is raising the minimum wage.

    Quinn proposed raising the hourly wage to at least $10 over the next four years. Right now it stands at $8.25, which means someone working 40 hours a week takes home about $17,000 a year, an amount below the poverty level. 

    "Nobody in Illinois should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty," he said. "That’s a principle as old as the Bible."

    Leading his own applause, Quinn listed his accomplishments over the past years and thanked multiple people from plumbers to veterans to Speaker Michael Madigan.

    "Hard is not impossible," he said.

    That applies to civil unions, he said, and hopefully to marriage equality.

    An Illinois Senate committee on Tuesday approved legalizing gay marriage for the second time in a month. The Executive Committee voted 9-5 to move legislation giving marital rights to same sex couples to the Senate floor. Democrats with a 40-member majority say they have the needed votes.

    "Marriage equality is coming to Illinois," he said.