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Quinn Backs Increase In Minimum Wage, Assault Weapons Ban, Marriage Equality In State Of The State Address

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 6, 2013 7:50PM

Gov. Pat Quinn cast an eye toward the 2014 elections in his State of the State address this afternoon in Springfield by appealing to his base and championing marriage equality, an increase in the minimum wage and a ban on assault weapons. Quinn also addressed the issue that is arguably his kryptonite: Illinois’ inability to solve its pension funding crisis.

Quinn told the Illinois General Assembly the current pension crisis as it stands currently costs education, public safety and other infrastructure projects in Illinois $17 million a day.

In our communities, that squeeze looks like Crete-Monee District 201 eliminating art, music and PE classes for grade schoolers. In DuPage High School District 88, it looks like larger class sizes and less attention for students.

And across Illinois, it looks like credit downgrades and fewer roads and bridges repaired.

This is not our Illinois.

And we cannot allow our economic recovery to be held hostage by the pension crisis.
We simply must act.

Our vision for our Illinois cannot be fully realized without pension reform.

This problem cannot be delayed, deferred, or delegated to the next session……. to the next generation.

Quinn touted bipartisan efforts of Illinois Democrats and Republicans in drafting Senate Bill 1, a plan that aims to stabilize the $95 billion pension crisis and lead to steady economic growth.

Quinn referenced the recent shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton in calling for a ban on assault rifles and banning concealed carry in highly traveled public spaces.

“We cannot wait for another tragedy to happen before we take action,” he said. “We must move forward with a comprehensive plan that includes gun safety legislation, mental health care and violence prevention strategies.”

Quinn, who has long said he would sign a marriage equality bill if it passes the general Assembly, seemed to crow at the possibility it could come as soon as Valentine’s Day. “Marriage equality is coming to Illinois,” he said.

But the boldest item on his agenda may be a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Illinois from $8.25 an hour to a $10 an hour in the next four years. Business leaders in Illinois have resisted calls to raise the minimum wage, saying it would affect their businesses and possibly hamper economic recovery. Quinn was nonplussed.

“Our businesses are only as good as the employees who drive their success,” he said. “Nobody in Illinois should work 450 hours a week and live in poverty. That’s a principle as old as the Bible. That’s why, over the next four years, we must raise the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour.”

Read the full transcript of Quinn's address here.