Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn delivered his fourth annual State of the State, an address that touched on a wide-ranging set of issues including a proposal to increase the state's minimum wage by almost $2 and the institution of online voter registration.
Illinois, of course, has gotten national attention for its disastrous financial health as of late. The state has nearly $9 billion worth of unpaid bills and, according to ABC Chicago, federal transfer money was responsible for funding a third of the state's activities in 2011. Its $100 billion pension problem is the worst in the nation.
But the governor's speech did not go into many specifics of those finances -- that topic will take center stage during the governor's separate annual budget address later this month.
Below are some of the issues Gov. Quinn touched on Wednesday:
- MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: The Chicago Sun-Times gave a heads up that Quinn would propose increasing the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour within the next four years. The state's minimum wage is currently $8.25 an hour. "Nobody should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty," Quinn said during his address.
- GUN CONTROL: Among the gun control measures Gov. Quinn spoke of Wednesday was a statewide law requiring gun owners to report any loss or theft of weapons within 24 hours. He was previously expected to propose a ban of Internet gun sales conducted without background checks, per an ABC Chicago report, but he did not specifically mention that during the State of the State. Quinn also paid tribute to slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, whose funeral the governor will attend on Saturday, during the address.
- ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION: Registering to vote online in Illinois? The governor said he will push for state lawmakers to approve online voter registration, according to the Chicago Tribune.
- OPEN PRIMARIES: The governor is also reportedly pushing for open primary elections, which would allow voters to not have to declare a political party, the Associated Press reports.
- PENSION REFORM: Quinn has consistently cited pension reform as his number-one priority, even as state lawmakers have as yet been able to agree on a fix to the state's massively underfunded program. He touched on the issue Wednesday, relying on his oft-repeated refrain that the state's pension underfunding is "squeezing out" funding for education and other state spending areas.
- MARRIAGE EQUALITY: The state's Senate Executive Committee advanced a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois on Tuesday. Gov. Quinn said in a Tuesday statement that he is looking forward "to working to pass this bill through both houses in the days to come" and called marriage equality "a matter of fairness and equal rights under law." He urged state lawmakers to get the bill to his desk so that he can sign it into law in the weeks ahead, stating: "Let's pass this bill for marriage equality and let's do it now."