(Springfield, IL) – January 13, 2010. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are hoping Governor Pat Quinn uses his State of the State address for solutions instead of stumping.
Quinn will deliver his speech before the General Assembly and other state officials at noon in the Capitol building.
The governor owes voters a plan to get out of the state’s record deficit, said state Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).
“I think people in my district are looking for answers on how you’re going to substantively reform the system so we don’t end up in this mess again,” he said.
The state is mired in a $13 billion budget deficit and faces a mountainous backlog of unpaid bills to state vendors.
But Quinn also has to consider the state primary on Feb. 2, says Kent Redfield, political science professor at the University of Illinois, Springfield.
Quinn is running against state Comptroller Dan Hynes for the Democratic gubernatorial bid.
“I’d be very surprised if he talks about budget matters. Voters do not like to hear about tax increases and budget cuts that close to an election,” Redfield said.
Lawmakers gave Quinn credit for delivering the State of the State address and budget address separately.
Former Governor Rod Blagojevich combined the two speeches into one for several years, confusing both voters and lawmakers.
At the same time, lawmakers also noted Quinn can now save all the difficult policy talk until his budget address, which would likely take place sometime in March.
But state Rep. Pat Verschoore (D-Milan) said the state’s problems are so dire, Quinn would have no choice but to be straightforward with constituents in his State of the State address.
“I don’t think it’s a political thing. I think he just wants to let us know what kind of shape the state is in and let us be thinking about this before we come back in February so we can do something about it,” he said.
State Rep. Jill Tracy (R-Quincy) said Quinn had to consider his political future when making the speech, just like any other state elected official would.
“It’s the first [State of the State] we’ve had in five years. Of course, we’ve never had a February primary for governor before,” she said. “That being said, all of us are always running. That’s the nature of the beast. So I can’t fault him for that.”
Kevin Lee–Illinois Statehouse News