Gov. Quinn’s past State of the State addresses vs. reality
This Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn will take the pulpit in front of the Illinois General Assembly and give his annual State of the State address. The speech, which is given annually by the standing governor, is an opportunity for the governor to give his view on the condition of the state, and how they envision...
This Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn will take the pulpit in front of the Illinois General Assembly and give his annual State of the State address. The speech, which is given annually by the standing governor, is an opportunity for the governor to give his view on the condition of the state, and how they envision the state could and should perform over the coming year.
Over the years when addressing the Illinois General Assembly, Quinn has spoken of “progress” and highlights his “successes” though issues such as job growth, pension reform, tax breaks, education reform and enacting stronger ethical standards. Quinn is so confident in his progress that in his 2012 State of the State address he declared that “Illinois is back on course.” Sadly, it is this disconnect that highlights how out of touch the governor is with Illinois’ poor performance in all of the aforementioned categories since he has taken office.
Here is a look at what Quinn has focused on in his past State of the State addresses compared to bleak reality in Illinois:
Quinn’s take: In 2012 Quinn talked with enthusiasm during his State of the State address as he spoke of automobile companies that have hired a few hundred more employees in Illinois; a year later, Quinn eagerly spoke of the manufacturing sector filling some of the positions that were eliminated in the past and stated: “Our Illinois is a place where everyone has an opportunity to work and where our companies innovate and grow.” Quinn praised the job creation in Illinois to the extent that one would think Illinois is the best state in the country in creating jobs.
Reality: After five years of Quinn’s leadership, Illinois is projected to be 50th in job growth in 2014. Moody’s Analytics puts Illinois in dead last for job creation this year, predicting the state’s payroll job numbers will only grow 0.98 percent. That’s an increase of only 57,000 jobs. Quinn’s praise of growth in the manufacturing sector is also skewed as Illinois’ manufacturing base has been in decline, losing more than 130,000 manufacturing jobs in the past decade.
Quinn’s take: During his 2013 State of the State address, Quinn stated: “This is a choice about whether we will make the tough decisions necessary to balance our budget by reforming our public pension systems or whether we will let our jobs, our safety, and our schools be squeezed out by the skyrocketing pension costs.” On the surface of this statement, it appeared Quinn was ready for real pension reform.
Reality: After his 2013 State of the State address, Quinn would later sign and applaud the passage of a pension bill that did little to take the state off the path toward insolvency. The bill, which is now law, only reduces Illinois’ $100 billion pension shortfall to 2011 levels – levels that were then already the worst in the nation. In fact, when Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Illinois in January 2012, it called the state’s 2011 $83 billion hole a “severe pension-funding shortfall.” A hole, mind you, that greatly expanded under Quinn.
Taxing the people:
Quinn’s take: When addressing the General Assembly in February 2011, Quinn made a promise to the people of Illinois when he said: “And our commitment to taxpayers is simple. We will only use tax dollars to provide necessary state services.”
Reality: In January 2011 Quinn helped push through a record income tax increase of 67 percent. Quinn called the income tax increase “temporary” and “necessary.” It should come as no surprise that it would be only two years later before legislation started being introduced that would make the income tax increase permanent. To make matters worse, Quinn has been an outspoken proponent of an income tax increase; a move that would dramatically hurt Illinois competitiveness among other states. On top of the 2011 income tax increase, Quinn has been pushing for yet another tax increase on Illinois families. Quinn has been a staunch supporter of shifting Illinois from a fair, flat tax to a progressive tax increase that would force middle-class families to pay more in taxes. Quinn has been quoted saying passing a progressive income tax increase is “one of my goals before I stop breathing.”
Quinn’s take: Quinn always touts “accomplishments” in education reform under his tenure. In Quinn’s 2013 State of the State address he announced: “Four years ago, Illinois was behind. But now we’re setting the reform agenda for the nation. I signed into law education reforms that put the students of Illinois first.”
Reality: Illinois students are far from being given the correct tools to be first in the country. Recently, Illinois earned a D+ on new national education reform report card done by StudentsFirst, a national education reform organization headed by former Washington D.C. public schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. The report demonstrated that Illinois earned low scores in all of the categories, including Fs in how much it values effective teachers and whether it allows for teacher pension portability.
Quinn’s take: Being disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s running mate and successor, it is not surprising that Quinn often touts the importance of strong ethical standards for elected officials, including himself. In 2010, just a year after Blagojevich’s indictment, Quinn told Illinois legislators that: “in the course of carrying out our duties in the past year we’ve done very well with respect to restoring ethics and integrity to our government.”
Reality: Quinn has shown his policies may not be as ethical as the state deserves. For example, over the years Quinn has happily accepted millions in campaign contributions from the politically powerful Service Employees International Union; which has in turn received $52 million from home health care workers that Quinn, much like his predecessor Blagojevich, declared were state employees and therefore were accountable for union dues. Many of these health care workers are simply people who are staying home to take care of physically/mentally disabled family members; yet, for the right amount of money, Quinn mandated that they become members of a union.
Quinn will have a lot to say during his State of the State speech on Jan. 29 and those listening will hear a lot of his usual rhetoric, but as it standard for the course for the current administration, what he says about Illinois and what is actually happening in the state are often complete opposites.