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Quinn Sticks It To Rauner And Legislature On The Way Out The Door

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 13, 2015 3:15PM

Photo credit: Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Don't think Pat Quinn holds a grudge? Think again. The now-former Illinois governor skipped Rauner's inauguration Monday and spent his final hours in office, pen in hand, signing off on a litany of legislation and making minor appointments, leaving Gov. Bruce Rauner to have to deal with the fallout.

In some instances, Quinn didn't even need a pen. He failed to act on applications for licensing medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries, leaving it to Rauner to do. Quinn instead signed legislation giving the Illinois Department of Agriculture the authority to revoke and suspend cultivation center licenses.

Quinn took a cautious approach to medical cannabis and touted Illinois' approach to it to be one of the strictest in the nation. But leaving the licensing of dispensaries and grow houses to Rauner, who said during the gubernatorial race "medical marijuana is not something I’ve supported but it’s not a big issue for me either way," drew a scathing rebuke from state Rep. Lou Lang, who spent years working to get medical marijuana approved in the Prairie State.

“The failure is not from the state agencies. State agencies worked their butts off to make this happen. The failure needs to go where the buck stops, at the governor’s office,” Lang said. “I have been a big supporter of Gov. Quinn and this is a failure.”

Quinn also signed legislation requiring state contractors to pay their workers a $10 hourly minimum wage, appointed over 100 people to positions on state boards and commissions and signed an executive order requiring the governor to release his full income tax returns. That last one was a particular point of contention for Quinn during the campaign. Rauner, who donated $27 million of his own money to his campaign, only released the cover sheets to his returns (which revealed he and wife Diana earned over $60 million in 2013).

We wouldn't be surprised if Quinn left behind a stapler in a Jell-O mold for Rauner to discover in his office.

All of these actions were called "political booby traps" by state Rep. Ron Sandack, who added that Quinn didn't leave office "in a graceful and classy manner." Quinn made a number of controversial moves after he conceded defeat to Rauner last November, signing off on a slew of clemency petitions, making scores of executive orders and appointments. The minimum wage and tax return orders are clear shots at Rauner. The new governor expressed his wish that the General Assembly would not push through a minimum wage hike until after he was inaugurated. A bill to boot the minimum wage in Illinois passed in the Senate before stalling in the House.

At the very least, Quinn's actions can be seen as a nuisance for Rauner and a Legislature that now has to learn to work together. At most, it's a final "fuck you" from a politician who had rocky relationships with peers in both major parties. The Legislature will have their own messes from Rauner to deal with in short order. After all, the new governor appointed James Meeks to head the Illinois Board of Education.