GOP blasts Quinn's State of the State

Others say he struck right tone, called for reform

February 2, 2012

Illinois Republicans wasted no time criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State address.

They said Quinn painted a distorted picture of Illinois and didn't talk enough about solutions to the state's fiscal problems. The state cannot afford new programs, they said.

The Republican leader in the House, Tom Cross of Oswego, said the governor’s speech made him think of his son, who plays fantasy football and fantasy baseball.

"I felt like we were in a game of fantasy government. It’s not real. And you want the CEO of the state who’s been here for three years – three years – it’s now his ship – to get it. And he didn’t demonstrate that today," he said.

The state has a stack of unpaid bills piling up to vendors, hospitals and doctors that is more than $8 billion. The state also carries an $85 billlion liability in its pension funds. The state's five pension funds are about 43 percent funded, meaning if everyone in the pension systems retired today, the state wouldn't have retirement money for more than half of them. 

For decades, the state didn't pay its full share into the funds.

But Democratic State Rep. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) defended Quinn, saying he struck the right tone. Quinn acknowledged the pension and Medicaid programs needed to be fixed this year.

"I think the governor laid down the stark reality we’re facing this year. We’re going to have to cut spending," Cunningham said.

Quinn said he’ll focus more on the budget during an address Feb. 22.