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SPRINGFIELD – January 13, 2010. In his first State of the State address, Governor Pat Quinn vowed to be Illinois’ “Building Governor” and continue his plan of action to create and retain good-paying jobs, revitalize the State’s economy and rebuild the public’s trust in its government.
“Make no little plans. This is a time for bold and determined action,” said Governor Quinn. “As Illinois’ ‘Building Governor,’ I am reinvigorating our State economy, creating and saving jobs statewide while rebuilding the people’s trust in their elected officials and government.”
The Governor’s speech addressed several key themes:
- Creating, Saving Jobs in Illinois: Governor Quinn reasserted his bold and comprehensive strategy dedicated to putting people back to work across Illinois.
- Illinois’ job revival is being fueled by passage of Illinois Jobs Now!, the first major jobs and construction program in nearly a decade, which will create over 439,000 jobs over the next six years. To date, $1.5 billion in Illinois Jobs Now! projects are moving forward. These projects alone are estimated to create and retain over 11,000 direct and indirect jobs in Illinois.
- Governor Quinn has also taken swift action to ensure that Illinois receives the maximum amount of funds available through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. As a result, Illinois has consistently ranked in the top five states for the number of transportation projects and the amount of federal stimulus dollars received. To date, Illinois has disbursed more than $5.6 billion creating thousands of direct jobs across the state.
- The proposed sale of Thomson Correctional Center to the federal Bureau of Prisons is estimated by the White House Council of Economic Advisors to create up to 3,800 new jobs and more than $1 billion in economic activity over just the first years of operation for the hard-hit Northwest Illinois region.
- Investing in Illinois Economy and Businesses: Governor Quinn is committed to working with big and small business. He noted that the Quinn Administration has already finalized 55 business investment packages, designed to generate or save jobs. To date, these packages are creating more than 8,000 jobs and retaining more than 3,000 positions. These business development deals assist companies, which want to relocate or stay in Illinois. In addition, the Governor has proposed tools to help small businesses thrive, such as bolstering startup and micro-businesses by creating Angel Investment Tax Credits and expanding venture capital funding for seed and early-stage firms.
- Restoring Ethics and Integrity to State Government: Governor Quinn has increased governmental ethics, developed stricter boards and commissions requirements, enacted a stronger Freedom of Information Act, provided greater access to government decision-making and reaffirmed his commitment to pension reform. A longtime proponent of accountability in government, Governor Quinn advocated for and signed the first-ever recall law for a sitting governor. In addition, the Governor stood up for everyday people by signing the first-ever campaign contribution limits into law. Governor Quinn is also proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow citizens to propose ethical reforms and put them in a binding referendum.
- Preserving and Building Education: Illinois’ strong investment in education has been highlighted by President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this year. Already, Illinois has received more than $2.5 billion in education funding through federal stimulus efforts, and the administration is competing for more money available through the federal “Race to the Top” funding program. Governor Quinn also won the battle to restore the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) after approximately 138,000 MAP grant recipients were to receive only 50 percent of their award, covering only the fall 2009 school term.
- Building Roads, Bridges, Transportation Hubs: Governor Quinn noted the Illinois Department of Transportation’s building effort is underway with $3.1 billion in committed projects in 2009. In addition, Illinois is becoming a major “inland port” with the development of Union Pacific's new intermodal facility in Joliet that will create an estimated 7,000 jobs.
- Investing in Public Health and Safety: Governor Quinn stressed a number of new laws to guard public health and safety, including The Smoke Free Illinois Act, which ensures that residents can breathe fresh air while they are at work and in public places; the Dental Clinic Grant Program that increases access to dentists and affordability of treatment for low-income families in underserved areas; and legislation to combat childhood obesity. Governor Quinn also recently named health and civil rights advocate Dr. Quentin Young as Illinois’ first Public Health Advocate to develop programs to improve public health through education and assist residents in understanding healthcare coverage provisions
- Protecting Consumers: Governor Quinn highlighted laws that will provide consumers with greater services and protections. For example, insured people whose health claims are denied can now have those decisions reviewed and decided upon quickly by a qualified, independent doctor. In addition, more uninsured women will now be eligible for breast cancer screenings and treatment, and struggling homeowners will now receive a 90-day moratorium before a home foreclosure to give families the extra time they need to refinance or figure out a payment plan before losing their home.
- Fighting for Illinois Servicemembers, Veterans and their Families: Governor Quinn reiterated his commitment to Illinois servicemembers and vowed his continued support. He noted that programs like “Operation Employ Veterans” will help servicemen and servicewomen transition into civilian life by providing employment training and contact with potential employers. In addition, construction gets underway this year on a new 200-bed Illinois Veterans’ Home at Chicago, creating 200 local jobs.
In his State of the State address, Governor Quinn said Illinois is facing an unprecedented budgetary crisis. He again vowed to address the crisis through a combination of major cuts and efficiencies; using strategic borrowing; accessing more federal funding; and enhancing revenues.
The Governor also thanked the General Assembly for moving forward on his plan to overhaul the Illinois Department of Corrections’ Meritorious Good Credit program. Based on recommendations of former judge and criminal justice expert David A. Erickson, the Governor’s overhaul includes a provision to require state prison inmates to serve at least 60 days of their sentences before they could be considered for good-time credit off of their sentences.
After serving nearly a year in office, Governor Quinn said the citizens of Illinois now have greater confidence in their State government. Having endured the upheaval of the previous administration, which ended in the previous governor’s impeachment and removal from office, Illinois is on the road to recovery.
“While great progress has been made this first year, we have much more to do. By working together for the common good, we are on our way to building a stronger Illinois,” said Governor Quinn.