By Todd Wineburner
State Senator Jason Barickman says Governor Pat Quinn missed a golden opportunity to take a real leadership role in a difficult time for the state, but he says Quinn “missed the boat.” Barickman, like other Republicans, was hoping for a speech that focused primarily on the state’s fiscal woes, and while the governor did mention the pension obligation and the state’s indebtedness, Barickman felt that too much of the speech was devoted to peripheral issues like ethics reforms and raising the minimum wage. Barickman praises the governor for lofty goals, but says Illinois’s situation demands strong economic leadership and a willingness to acknowledge the state’s obvious problems.
106th Legislative District Representative Josh Harms agrees. Harms also gave the governor credit for ideas that sounded good, but he says far too much emphasis was placed on jobs created by state government. Harms says the only road to real recovery includes developing a stronger and more prosperous private sector that drives job creation.
While Democratic leadership largely approved of Quinn’s speech, Republicans in statewide office were unimpressed. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford echoed others in saying that any reluctance to take on the state’s pension crisis is a poor idea. When asked about his plans to attempt to replace Quinn, Rutherford said that he is considering a gubernatorial run and that he’ll officially announce his decision in weeks to come. Attorney General Lisa Madigan disagreed with Rutherford concerning the governor’s speech, but she was equally non-committal on the question of a run for the governor’s office. State Comptroller Judy Baar-Topinka concurred with Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady in saying that the governor’s speech sounded more like a campaign appearance than a State of the State address.
Governor Pat Quinn’s address is available on our podcast page.