Quinn address brings mixed reaction
From staff Reports February 6, 2013 4:56PM
Area lawmakers reacted to Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State address on Wednesday.
“We know the fiscal crisis Illinois faces. Now we need to hear the governor’s plan for growing our economy — so that individuals, innovators and entrepreneurs once again have the opportunity to succeed. We must pass a balanced budget and meaningful pension reform to begin repairing the damage done by recent credit downgrades and the mounting backlog of unpaid bills. More jobs and a stable economy are the only foundation upon which to build a robust, opportunity-filled future for every Illinois family,” said state Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, the House minority leader.
“He (Quinn) did make it very clear that the pension is a huge issue that has to be tackled to get back on the right track,” state Sen. Jennifer Bertino -Tarrant said.
Bertino-Tarrant is a new legislator and said pension reform dominates discussion in Springfield. “The talk in Springfield is pension reform, pension reform. I am confident that it’s going to be addressed.”
“Like Gov. Quinn, I’m eager for the General Assembly to pass House Bill 190, because it will fund much-needed road and bridge projects in Will County. I also like the governor’s call for increased job opportunities for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And, Gov. Quinn was right in making a forceful case for pension reform, which needs to be fair, constitutional and sustainable,” said state Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet.
“The governor’s commitment to working out a solution to the pension crisis was pretty much the focus of the speech,” said state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood. “If we come out of this session with some kind of steps forward instead of standing still, I’d be happy with that.”
Raising minimum wage
Mark Meinster, an organizer for Joliet-based Warehouse Workers for Justice, lauded Quinn’s goal to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.
“The reality is, had it increased with inflation, (the minimum wage) would be over $10 an hour now,” he said. “It would allow workers to make ends meet and pay for their basic needs, including housing, rent, food, health care and transportation.”
Meinster said the higher wages would be passed on to small businesses in communities around the state.
“People would have more buying power and low-wage workers would be less dependent on government assistance,” he said. “This would be a good policy choice all the way around.”
But Russ Slinkard, president and CEO of the Joliet Chamber of Commerce, said the move is “absolutely outrageous” and it would hurt Illinois businesses.
Slinkard said raising the minimum wage would make Illinois even less desirable to businesses.
“In a state that is not business friendly already … to raise the cost of doing business really doesn’t do anything positive to help our image,” he said.
Higher minimum wages do not lead job growth, Slinkard added.
“If anything it hinders it,” he said. “It falls harder on small businesses and entrepreneurs who already struggle to meet payroll.”