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Quinn uses State of the State address to lay out campaign themes

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In spite of all the chatter in the 2014 gubernatorial race between the GOP candidates, mostly centered on Bruce Rauner, the spotlight is now on Governor Pat Quinn. Yesterday a host of labor unions filed a lawsuit against Quinn and other State of Illinois officials citing the unconstitutionality of the recently passed pension reform. The lawsuits loomed today over Quinn’s State of the State address that clearly promoted his re-election themes.

Quinn used this mandated opportunity to highlight what has been done during his time as governor and what he wants to do this year and in another term. He constantly referenced what can be done “in the next five years” during the speech. He also delivered the address with specific themes to target certain blocks and regions of Illinoisans. For example:

JOBS & INFRASTRUCTURE

• He mentioned that since January 2010, Illinois has created 280,000 private sector jobs:

• Described how his administration worked with the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association to reform the worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance systems two years ago:

• Cited how his administration in the last five years supported 400,000 jobs through the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now Program with project across the entire state (i.e. Rockford, Quad Cities, Peotone, Pekin, Decatur, Kankakee, Spring Valley and Murphysboro);

• Stated that he wants to double the investment in storm water and flood control projects;

SMALL BUSINESS

• Stated that his administration helped numerous companies through the Advantage Illinois Program;

• Announced he will sign an Executive Order to create a Small Business Advocate to help small businesses thrive in Illinois;

• Proposed reducing the LLC license fee from $500 to $39 to spur small business start-ups;

MINORITIES & WOMEN

• States that his administration established a revolving loan program at the Illinois Department of Transportation that helped boost state contracts to minority and women-owned businesses by 60 percent;

• Specifically cited contracts going to African-American businesses who worked on the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge in the Metro-East;

PARENTS

• Cited how his administration has tried to preserve early childhood education from budget cuts and invested in new early education centers throughout the state;

• Announced the need for the “Birth to Five” initiative which over the next five years would provide additional pre-natal and parenting support and early learning opportunities;

JOB SEEKERS

• Cited how there are 130,000 jobs available on the IllinoisJobLink.com website;

• Cited how his administration is reaching the goal of having 60 percent of Illinois’ adult workforce hold a degree or career certificate by 2025;

• Cited the success of the 1871 tech hub in Chicago during his tenure as governor and proposed launching a new bio-hub for pharmaceutical, medical device and health IT start-ups;

VETERANS

• Referenced an Executive Order he signed last year mandating the assessment of military training against state licensing requirements;

• Touted launching the Welcome Home Heroes Program that helped 1,150 military families buy homes in Illinois;

• Announced that he wants to launch a “Veterans Bridge Program” to help military medics attain LPN degrees;

STRUGGLING FAMILIES

• Cited how the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit doubled the tax relief for eligible families during his time as governor and proposed doubling it again over the next five years;

• Proposed raising the Illinois minimum wage to $10 an hour; and

• Proposed mandating that low-wage workers in Illinois receive at least two sick days.

The title for Quinn’s 2014 State of the State address was “Illinois is Making a Comeback.” But it could also be read as “this is why Illinois should leave me in the Governor’s Mansion.” He got to lay out his re-election campaign issues to state-wide media coverage and didn’t have to spend a dime. It’s a perk and an advantage that the lone Democrat and four Republicans seeking his job do not have. Quinn gets to do the same thing during his mandated Budget Address on February 19th, a mere 27 days before the Primary Election. So even with a looming battle with labor on pension reform, Quinn is positioning himself to not go anywhere.

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