Quinn calls for change, lawmakers call for different focus

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn called on lawmakers to raise the state's minimum wage, allow online voter registration and ban assault weapons.

Quinn laid out his proposals in a 13-page speech this afternoon for his State of the State address.

But not all of his lawmakers agreed with the focus of his speech.

State Rep. Norine Hammond, of Macomb, released a statement this afternoon stating the governor's speech lacked the substance the people of Illinois wanted to hear.

She wrote, "There was no real blueprint presented to address our most pressing issue; the budget and unpaid bills. There were no details on how we will address the recent credit downgrades, eleven of which occurred under Quinn's leadership. There was a great deal of emphasis put on social issues. And while I understand those may be important to the Governor, they are not the priorities shared by the families I speak to everyday in the 93rd district."

Hammond was not alone in her concerns. Sen. John Sullivan, of Rushville, and Rep. Jil Tracy, of Quincy, expressed concern with Quinn's proposed minimum wage increase. He wants Illinois' minimum wage to increase from $8.25 to $10 an hour over the next four years.

â??Nobody in Illinois should work 40 hours a week, and live in poverty. Thatâ??s a principle as old as the bible,â?? Quinn said. â??As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, itâ??s always the right time to do the right thing.â??

The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

"My concern is really with the small businesses and the impact it's going to have on them. I'm willing to take a look at a proposal. Some of the previous proposals have had cost of living adjustments automatically included in that, so that is not something I'd be supportive of," Sullivan said.

"That is just one of the most ludicrous ideas -- to build a state back up from an economic recession -- to cripple small businesses with that kind of wage increase when they can't afford the one they've got now," Tracy said.

Hammond, Tracy and Sullivan said Quinn and lawmakers should focus more on the state's budget crisis and pension problems.

However, each commended Quinn's work with the veterans.

"I appreciate his commitment to the men and women of our armed forces and all that he has done for these brave individuals. He deserves credit for those notable accomplishments," Hammond said.

You can read Quinn's speech in it's entirety here.