Much like his first year in office, Governor Pat Quinn ad-libbed much of his first-ever State of the State speech, which ran a mind-numbing hour and twenty minutes.
Quinn, who did not have a prepared speech and worked from notes jotted on a yellow legal pad, read down a checklist of accomplishments he’s managed since taking over for ousted governor Rod Blagojevich.
The mostly improvised speech, which fell just weeks before the primary election, served more as a campaign vehicle than a policy prescription for the state of Illinois.
Quinn listed campaign finance reform, the clean up of the University of Illinois Board of Directors and reopening state parks among his triumphs.
“I said at the start of my term that this has to be a year of reform,” Quinn said. “So we went about that task and we reformed the public trust.”
Quinn waited nearly 27 minutes before mentioning jobs, and the current fiscal malaise that’s affecting the state.
That’s when he began talking, in meandering ways, about the importance of job creation through infrastructure programs like improving roads and creating high-speed rails.
Quinn talked about becoming the “inland port for the nation.”
"Our mission this year is to revive our economy and put people back to work," Quinn said. "We have to prime the pump and get our economy back on track."
It took the governor nearly 30 minutes more before he touched on specific job creation programs that could potentially lift Illinois out of its current fiscal malaise. Among them, completing the Thomson prison deal -- an idea he stauchly defended, to applause -- implementing his Illinois Jobs Now program and ... raising taxes on some and providing tax relief to lower - and middle-income residents of the "Land of Lincoln," a phrase he used six times.
He also suggested "accelerating investment" in a proposed third regional airport in Peotone.
At the hour and 15 minute mark, Quinn spoke about his recently deceased 93-year-old father who taught him "not to call people names," perhaps a reference to the contentious campaign contest between comptroller Dan Hynes and himself.
The Hynes campaign immediately released a rebuttal to the speech.
"Instead of offering concrete plans to get us out of this crisis, he fundamentally dropped the ball today in this rambling and unfocused performance. He may be proud of his thin record of accomplishments in office, and he may feel that the circumstances have prevented him from doing more to solve problems, but the people of Illinois are rapidly coming to understand that we can and must do better. This was yet another lost opportunity for Pat Quinn to lead," the Hynes campaign statement read.