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Quinn: Illinois Making a Comeback

Rich Egger

Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is promoting a progressive agenda for this year.

He used the annual State of the State address to call for a hike in the minimum wage, funding to send more children to preschool, and the money to provide more grants for low-income college students.

Quinn gave the speech on the five year anniversary of his swearing in as governor.

"We've led Illinois' comeback one hard step at a time. We've worked to repair decades of damage,” Quinn said.

“And we're getting the job done. Let's keep the shoulder to the wheel and get that job done.”

State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) is intrigued by the proposal to double the amount of MAP grant funding for college students

“The MAP program, we know it’s popular, we know that there is double the request of what we have for funding in there. If we can figure out a way to increase the MAP program -- funding for that program -- I think it would be a great thing and a lot of people would benefit,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan is looking forward to Quinn’s budget address, when the governor will explain how he’ll pay for the programs he proposed Wednesday.

Republicans -- and even some of Quinn's fellow Democrats -- said his plan ignores Illinois' harsh financial reality.

And State Representative Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) doesn't like Quinn’s proposal to double the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a type of tax break for low-income families.

“I've followed this earned income tax credit and what we've seen is that it puts people in a spot where they're not encouraged to work more,” Tracy said.

“And I think that kind of economic policy or tax policy is not good. We don't want to see people not want to improve themselves.”

Tracy is running for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor on Senator Kirk Dillard's ticket.

Fellow State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) was dismayed to hear no mention in the speech of anything being done to benefit west central Illinois.

“Certainly the completion of (Route) 336 would be an important project. We’re fighting also for the funding for US 34,” said Hammond.

She said there also was no mention of the long-awaited construction money to build a Performing Arts Center at Western Illinois University.