From Illinois Public Radio - News -

Gov. Quinn To Deliver State Of The State Address

Pat Quinn

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn delivers his State of the Budget address to a joint session of the General Assembly in the House chambers at the Illinois State Capitol Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Springfield Ill. (Seth Perlman/AP)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn gives his sixth State of the State address on Wednesday in Springfield. It comes in an election year that has Quinn seeking a second full term as governor.

Quinn has spent a lot of time talking about the state's pension problems in recent years.

Now, with a bid for re-election on the line, he is turning to more populist issues, like an increase in the minimum wage.

"When we put more purchasing power in the hands of hard-working people, they're not going to admire the money in the bank vault," Quinn said in December.

The governor is expected to renew that call in Wednesday’s speech. But others, like State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Carlinville), say Quinn ought to be focusing on improving Illinois' economy overall.

"Let's stop talking about minimum wage, and let's start talking about maximizing wages and salaries and benefits for the people of Illinois," McCann said.

Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

The state’s unemployment rate last month was 8.6 percent. That’s down almost a full point from a year ago, but Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin – said it is still too high.

“It’s clearly understandable why we have governors from our surrounding states coming into Illinois seeking to poach our good employers, our good job creators,” Durkin said.

Durkin said he will need Democratic support for a series of employment initiatives he hopes to introduce this session. He also said any discussion about raising the minimum wage in Illinois needs to include business groups.

“It’s an emotional issue, but it’s also part of gotcha politics in an election year,” he said.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics