SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois needs a tough law prohibiting lawmakers from voting on issues where they have a conflict of interest, Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday in his State of the State address.
Quinn also renewed a call for banning military-style assault weapons and urged a 20 percent increase in the hourly minimum wage, to $10.
He only made scattered references to the state's most pressing problem — a stifling public-employee pension deficit, but the "squeeze" it puts on other government spending was an undercurrent throughout Quinn's fifth State of the State. Quinn pointedly named Senate President John Cullerton's latest legislation that provides a fallback plan if the first is declared unconstitutional as "the best vehicle to get the job done."
"Do we want, in the years to come, a prosperous Illinois where working people continue to have good jobs, where business thrive, and where all our children have a world-class education?" Quinn asked. "Or do we want to stop the progress and watch our economic recovery stall?"
There were few other direct challenges in a speech traditionally reserved for a governor to highlight his accomplishments in the past year. He trumpeted job creation, a Medicaid overhaul and the closure of 54 state facilities to save money, workers' compensation reform, clean water and infrastructure improvements. He shared credit with bipartisan shout-outs to a half-dozen lawmakers who have lassoed significant issues, from allowing illegal immigrants to get driver's license to mortgage foreclosure prevention.