SPRINGFIELD – Exactly five years after taking office during an unprecedented triple crisis of government corruption, economic collapse and financial instability, Governor Pat Quinn today delivered his 2014 State of the State, laying out a five-year blueprint for jobs and economic growth in Illinois. The Governor's blueprint calls for creating more jobs, making early childhood education a top priority and building an economy that works for everyone -with specific measures to get the job done.
"We inherited a perfect storm and repairing the damage that had been done over decades would not happen overnight," Governor Quinn said. "Over the past five years, we have rebuilt one hard step at a time and our economic recovery is strengthening every day. We've been getting the job done and Illinois is making a comeback.”
"By following the steps I have outlined today– creating more jobs, investing in our children from birth to five and helping more workers join the middle class - we can create a stronger economy than ever before and reform Illinois for the next generation,” the Governor said.
Under Governor Quinn's leadership, Illinois enacted a strong new ethics code, campaign finance reform, and a new constitutional amendment to allow voters to recall a corrupt governor. When the Governor took office, Illinois had not properly invested in our infrastructure in 10 years. Within 10 weeks, the Governor and legislature partnered to enact the largest infrastructure program in Illinois history. In addition, Illinois achieved marriage equality and historic budget reforms, including cutting spending by more than one billion dollars, overhauling Medicaid and accomplishing necessary and comprehensive pension reform that Moody’s said “may be the largest reform package implemented” by any state in the nation.
The Governor's blueprint builds on the foundation laid over the last five years by focusing on jobs, education and fairness.
At the height of the recession, unemployment was at 11.3 percent and is now at its lowest point in almost five years, but there's more work to do, including:
- Reducing the LLC fee from $500 to $39 - the lowest in the nation - to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses and put more people to work;
- Establishing a Small Business Advocate to examine existing policies and proposals for their impact on the state’s small businesses;
- Doubling the number of MAP scholarships to help prepare more students have access to higher education;
- Expanding our youth and young adult conservation corps to help low-income and at-risk youth gain valuable training and work experience;
- Investing in BioHub, a new biotech center for start-ups that will take the industry to the next level; and
- Doubling the investment in the Clean Water Initiative, a revolving loan program to help municipalities upgrade water and sewer systems while creating thousands of skilled jobs.
In the last five years, we've made major progress in education reform. Parents are empowered with school report cards, teacher evaluations have strong benchmarks and performance is a priority over tenure. But there's more work to do. The Governor’s five-year blueprint for education starts where it matters most: in early childhood.
Today the Governor laid out an innovative Birth to Five Initiative that focuses on three keys to a healthy child:
- Connecting expecting mothers with prenatal care - While prenatal services are already available to expecting mothers, 25 percent of low-income mothers in Illinois are not receiving the prenatal care they need. This puts them at risk for low-weight babies with increased health risks that often lead to the need for taxpayer-funded services. Through the Birth to Five Initiative, the state will work with schools, hospitals, and faith-based organizations to connect mothers with prenatal services.
- Providing access to quality early learning opportunities - In 2009, Governor Quinn established the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development. As a result, we’ve secured federal grants from Race to the Top that allowed us to deliver high-quality early care and education programs. By properly investing in our existing early learning programs, we can change lives and save taxpayer money.
- Ensuring parents have strong support - Family involvement during preschool is linked with stronger pre-literacy skills, math skills, social skills and positive attitudes. Over the next five years, the Birth to Five Initiative will help connect families to a range of services and training opportunities to support their child’s education.
A key component of the Governor’s five-year blueprint is to build the middle class, strengthening the economy and ensuring all Illinois residents have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential.
Today the Governor laid out a series of proposals that focus on making our economy work for working families. These include:
- Raising the minimum wage to at least $10 per hour, a measure that is the right thing to do for workers in some of society’s most demanding jobs, who will then spend more in their local communities and help grow the economy;
- Doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit to help working class families put more money in their pockets and support economic growth; and
- Providing at least two earned sick days for every worker in Illinois, to help workers avoid that awful choice: dragging themselves from a sick bed to work, or losing a day's pay or even their job.