SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Governor Pat Quinn says Illinois' economic progress should not be stalled by the state's fiscal crisis.
Quinn tried to paint a progressive picture of Illinois state government during his "State of the State" address in Springfield Wednesday. Using the theme "hard is not impossible", the Governor called for a comprehensive plan which includes gun safety, mental health care and violence prevention strategies. On the state's underfunded pension system, Quinn urged the legislature to move forward.
"Our vision for Illinois cannot be fully realized without pension reform. This problem cannot be delayed, deferred, or delegated to the next session," he said.
Even though the state's bond rating has been downgraded nearly a dozen times since Quinn took office he says progress should not stop. He touted the hundreds of jobs created through his capital bill.
Republican Minority House Leader Tom Cross says the GOP has ideas that could push pension reform ahead.
"I think we need to focus on the big issues like the pension, so we have a vibrant economy and businesses that want to stay here and come here," Cross said.
State Senator Jason Barickman says now is not the time to talk about new initiatives.
"He's going to propose new spending, new programs but fail to acknowledge the fact that we've got an $8 billion to $9 billion in unpaid bill and unfortunately there's no plan for it," said Sen. Barickman, (R) 53rd district.
The governor's budget address has been pushed back to the first week of March. With the gubernatorial race one year away, some legislators are not optimistic much will be done on pension reform or the state's financial crisis this spring.