Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday delivered a State of the State address that laid out a five-year blueprint for jobs and economic growth.
His plan addresses jobs, includes an early childhood initiative and calls for increasing minimum wage to $10 an hour and providing every worker in Illinois with at least two earned sick days.
“By following the steps I have outlined today – creating more jobs, investing in our children from birth to 5 and helping more workers join the middle class – we can create a stronger economy than ever before and reform Illinois for the next generation,” Quinn said.
State Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, said the governor’s speech had a lot of rhetoric but lacked substance.
“While I think much of what Gov. Quinn wants for the State of Illinois sounds nice, I have to wonder how he plans to make it a reality,” McConnaughay said in a written statement.
“It also seemed to ignore some basic facts like Illinois having the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation.”
State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, said he liked Quinn’s proposal to lower the LLC from $500 to $39 as a way to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses. But Oberweis also echoed McConnaughay’s statements, saying Quinn had “nice-sounding statements” without much meat behind them.
“We all want to help the middle class,” Oberweis said, “but it seems his policies hurt more than help the middle class.”
State Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, said in a written statement that Quinn doesn’t seem to be able to reverse the high unemployment and families and businesses that are leaving Illinois for states with lower taxes and better opportunities.
“Today, the governor hit on a number of what he considers ‘popular themes,’ but he is continuing to miss what most families and employers throughout the state really want – to grow and prosper without the constant threat of new taxes,” Hatcher said.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce said in a news release that Quinn’s call for a higher minimum wage and mandated paid time off is frustrating to potential job creators.
“The governor and many legislators want to embrace the rhetoric of helping small business with a ‘renewed focus’ but then turn around – in the very same speech – and call for policies that will certainly kill small business jobs,” the chamber said. “Just the threat of these policies is enough to make many small businesses put a halt to plans for hiring or capital investment.”
Retailers, meanwhile, are urging the governor to focus on job creation.
A representative with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association said in a written statement that raising the minimum wage would be “wholly irresponsible” and would lead to job cuts, likely affecting those ages 16 to 24.
“The minimum wage is a floor, not a ceiling,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “It is a starting point where employees can acquire the necessary skills to advance and ultimately earn higher wages.”