Quinn seeks civil union with GOP (UPDATED)

DeWayne Bartels

Possibly to appear bipartisan Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in his State of the State Address asked for cooperation in meeting the big goals he outlined.

“I look forward to working with you to find the proper funding to meet these urgent needs,” Quinn said.

Quinn also told legislators meeting the goals he outlined will require “political courage” and a “true partnership.” He said big goals are needed because Illinois is moving forward.

Quinn, it seems, is not going to find a civil union with Republicans based on the comments from current legislators and legislator hopefuls for Woodford County.  

State Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, and a candidate for the new 53rd Senate District seat said, “I am pleased to see that the governor has finally come to the realization that our top priority and the key to solving our fiscal problems is job creation. However, I think we have fundamental disagreements on how to achieve this goal.

“The governor showed total disregard for the problems facing our state. Illinois has a backlog of unpaid bills that reaches $8 billion dollars and the largest deficit in the country. The governor did not even discuss these issues, let alone lay out his plans to address them.”

“We face tough choices on how to best pay down our bills, reform our Medicaid and pension systems, and make Illinois a competitive place to do business. The governor could have shown leadership on these issues, but instead he chose to ignore them.”

Other current legislators also did not warm to Quinn’s ideas.

“It sounded to me like he was whistling through the graveyard,” said State Rep. David Leitch, R-Peoria. “It just didn’t seem to acknowledge the desperate financial straits the state is in ... I was hoping for a strong call to action. Instead of a call to reform pensions and health care it was ‘let’s appoint another commission.’ . . . Everyone from Wall Street to Main Street is looking for action.

Unfortunately, we didn’t hear any of that, we heard happy talk.”

Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, added, “When you have all these press accounts out there about how the state is — and it’s reality — to just kind of gloss over it and say our state is on the right track, that is not backed up by anybody.”

Josh Harms, Republican candidate for the state legislature in the new 106th District, agreed with Quinn on his desire for strong economic growth as well as tax relief.

“I think the first step and the one with the greatest impact would be to roll back his corporate income tax increase.  If the state of Illinois wants to return to a time of strong economic growth, we need to get the government out of the way and let businesses grow,” he said.

He said Illinois needs to tighten up eligibility for Medicaid and build accountability into the system.

“A person could be held accountable if part of his or her aid payment was put into a health savings account. The person could use that money for health care,” Harms said. “If the person managed his or her care correctly and went to wellness checks, then at the end of the year the person could have what was left in the account. It would be an incentive for good health.”

Brian Gabor, Republican candidate for the state legislature in the new 106th District, said Quinn’s speech clearly illustrates the differences between his office and Republicans.

“Gov. Quinn recognizes that we need to grow our economy to help us out of our fiscal mess. However, he fails to realize that it is his own policies that have led to businesses leaving the State of Illinois, taking jobs with them. As a direct result of Gov. Quinn’s 67 percent tax increase on personal income tax, as well as his tax increase on corporations, Illinois has lost upwards of 100,000 jobs in just one year,” Gabor said.

“The governor’s disconnect on this issue is disheartening, and, in my opinion, these tax increases must be repealed immediately and we need reform in the realms of unemployment compensation and worker’s compensation so that we are competitive with our neighboring states. The governor also proposed several new spending projects. I am not going to get into a discussion here as to whether or not these new programs are good or bad ideas. That is a discussion for another day. However, I will oppose any new spending on any new programs at this time — regardless of their merit,” Gabor said.

“Gov. Quinn tried to hide the facts by using the word ‘investment’ numerous times throughout his speech. But make no mistake about it — when the governor uses the word investment, he means more spending.”

“The governor’s speech was completely devoid of any discussion as to how to pay for this new spending. There was no discussion of cuts that we need to make, and he was very light on how to attract businesses and jobs to Illinois. Proposing new spending without any discussion on how to pay for it is exactly what got us into this mess to begin with,” Gabor said.

“Gov. Quinn further touted his tax relief plan passed last year in regards to working families. However, he completely glossed over the fact that he gave all Illinois families a tax increase of 67 percent. With this tax increase, one whole pay check per year for every tax payer in Illinois is now being taken by the state of Illinois. If Gov. Quinn wants to provide real tax relief, a perfect start would be to give back to Illinois taxpayers the one paycheck per year that they have lost due to his tax increases,” Gabor said.

“I will not tell anyone that Illinois is in good shape. That would be a lie. But Gov. Quinn’s proposal will not lead to prosperity. It will only lead us further down the path to economic doom. We are standing on a precipice, looking over the edge, and we are now nearing the point of no return.”

Scott McCoy, Republican candidate for the state legislature in the new 106th District, said,  “I find it funny how Gov. Quinn in his State of the State address  told us how ‘Illinois is back on course’ and ‘moving forward.’  He stated he has ‘restored integrity to Illinois government’ and that they’ve made ‘Illinois a better place to do business.’ I don’t buy it.  

“I don’t buy it because I don’t see it and the facts don’t support it. I don’t think the people of Illinois are buying it either. We are smarter than that.  Just because the governor says something, doesn’t make it fact.

“One of the things I noticed is how much credit the governor gives to the government for the success of private business. He is making the case that government is a solution for the people.  Again, I don’t buy it.  This is also a dangerous ‘course’ to take.

“I kept a tally of how many times the governor mentioned entities north of I-80 and downstate. I came up with 24 mentions for Chicago, the Chicago suburbs, and north of I-80. The rest of downstate received a whopping five mentions. This tells me Gov. Quinn’s focus is clearly on Chicago, as we all knew it was.”

Richard Thomas, another candidate in the 106th District race, was unimpressed.

"Gov. Quinn’s State of the State address was déjà vu all over again — it’s just more spending at a time when we can ill afford it. The only item I liked was that businesses can reduce their income tax bills by up to $5,000 if they hire an unemployed veteran," Thomas said. 

"We need to support business and welcome back our returning heroes. We can’t have unemployed veterans, that would be a slap in the face to their courage and sacrifice. The devil is always in the details which Quinn will reveal when he delivers his annual budget speech on Feb. 22. There’s no way Quinn is going to balance the budget in the direction he is going so I stand ready and able to send a loud and clear message to Quinn that working families, farmers and small businesses are taxed enough already. 

Chris Kaergard of GateHouse News Service contributed to this report.