“Thank you,” said Governor Pat Quinn. It was the phrase heard over and over again Wednesday as he addressed a joint session of the Illinois legislature. But missing in the “thank you’s” were Republicans and leaders of the Democrats.
It marked Quinn’s third State of the State address and he declared: “We’re back on course—Illinois is moving forward.”
Quinn arrived in office three years ago following the dark days of the Blagojevich impeachment.
The governor’s speech was primarily about jobs, those created in places like the Ford Assembly plant and new jobs through high-tech initiatives. He called for reforms for both Medicaid spending and public pension payouts but without specifics.
The governor also unveiled his Illinois Jobs Agenda for 2012 which includes abolishing the natural gas utility tax, establishing a Child Tax Credit for parents raising children and creating a tax credit to help veterans find jobs.
“To create jobs and grow our economy we must continue to invest in Illinois,” he said.
His 2010 opponent State Senator Bill Brady wasn’t impressed.
“He talks about minute tax breaks after imposing a 67 percent increase on the backs of Illinois families and businesses,” Brady said.
Republican legislative leaders Christine Radogno and Tom Cross said the governor’s speech upped the state budget, already saddled with a deficit of $8-billion -- by $500 million.
“He has been in office for three years and these issues just keep getting worse and worse,” said Cross.
Radogno responded, “The best thing we can do for jobs now is fix the state’s budget.”
The governor said talk of the state’s financial woes will come in 3 weeks, in his budget address.
Today’s speech was more about optimism that pessimism.
“Moving forward on the vision that I laid out today will require true partnership,” Quinn said.
But will that partnership include the leaders of his own party, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton?
Springfield observer Rich Miller of the influential Capitol Fax Blog says lots of work remains in the realm of interpersonal relationships.
“There is still a lot of tension there between those three gentlemen,” he said.