"I think it's important to show that kind of example," Quinn said. "It's important for the people of Illinois to know that there's shared sacrifice, and these are hard times. We have half a million people out of work."
Quinn said last week that he intends to donate or return to the state about $27,000 of his $177,000 salary. If all 177 lawmakers took a smaller, five percent pay cut, it would save the state around $730,000, according to the Illinois Radio Network's calculations.
Quinn also urged legislators not to take their upcoming two-week Spring break if they haven't made progress on passing his construction plan to generate jobs, but he stopped short of threatening to force them into a special session, a tactic former Gov. Rod Blagojevich employed numerous times.
Quinn tried to explain his remarks in an a "Chicago Tonight" interview with Carol Marin Monday:
The full AP article on Quinn's construction plan and comments:
Gov. Pat Quinn enlisted help from organized labor on Monday, hoping to sell his proposed budget by emphasizing the need for a long-stalled statewide construction program.
The Democratic governor also said lawmakers shouldn't take an Easter break unless there's progress, but wouldn't commit to calling them back into special session.
"I don't think the Legislature should go home with people out of work in Illinois. We've got to get something going here," said Quinn, surrounded by labor groups during a news conference at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, where a new hospital is being built.
Quinn has proposed a $26 billion capital construction plan that he says would support 340,000 jobs. He wants to help pay for it with fee increases, including for car registrations and driver's licenses.
He said it's paramount that he and lawmakers do something to put people back to work. The state's unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in January, the latest figure available.
One way to get things started, Quinn said, is to borrow money to pay for road and bridge construction, which would entitle Illinois to federal matching money for the projects. The loan could be paid off with money from the state road fund.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, also wants to get a construction program passed soon, his spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said.
"He shares that goal and it really is highly unlikely that we would have any need for a special session," she said.
But Cullerton has some other ideas about how to pay for things. Quinn has said he won't raise the state motor-fuel tax to pay for roads, but Cullerton has said the idea still should be considered.
Dennis Gannon, head of the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said organized labor is frustrated that the state hasn't had a significant statewide construction program since the administration of former Gov. George Ryan, who is serving a federal prison sentence for corruption.
Ryan's successor, Rod Blagojevich, had a history of frosty relations with lawmakers and never was able to get them to back his major capital programs.
Gannon said President Barack Obama only can do so much to stimulate the local economy with federal money.
"It's the folks here, it's our elected officials on the local level, our four leaders in Springfield, along with the governor, that can move a package to make sure that we put our memberships back to work," Gannon said.
Quinn likely will have better luck with lawmakers than Blagojevich did.
Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said lawmakers don't mistrust Quinn like they did Blagojevich.
"Nobody trusted Gov. Blagojevich to do what he said he was going to do, which is one of the big impediments to getting anything passed," she said.
Radogno said Quinn has been meeting with the Democratic leaders, who control the General Assembly, and said a meeting with Republican leaders to talk about how to pay for a capital program would be helpful.
"I think we could get it done," Radogno said.