01/27/2012 03:35 pm ET Updated Jan 30, 2012

Gov. Quinn Defends Income Tax Hike, Denies Corporate Tax Breaks Were 'Sweetheart Deals' (VIDEO)

In a Friday appearance on MSNBC'S "Morning Joe," Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said he would not be giving in anytime soon to state Republicans' call for his income tax hike to be revoked.

Quinn appeared on the show Friday morning alongside two other Democratic governors, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. The three governors blasted national GOP leadership, as well as the Republican presidential candidates for obstructing President Obama's proposals to help bring about the nation's economic recovery.

When asked by host Joe Scarborough about his own move to increase the state's income tax rate as a means of addressing Illinois' budget deficit, Quinn said he would not be succumbing to the state GOP's criticism that taxes should return to their pre-hike rates.

"No, we're not," Quinn said. "We have to pay the bills and we're going to continue to do that, but we also make investments as Martin just said we invest in education ... In our state, Caterpillar, John Deere, Ford, Chrysler, all these are manufacturers and they're growing jobs -- about 20,000 jobs in Illinois in the past couple years."

When pressed concerning the controversial tax breaks granted to "big corporations," such as CME Group and Sears, in light of their threats to leave the state last year, the governor said to refer to these packages as "sweetheart deals" would be unfair.

"We have targeted tax incentives to keep jobs and grow jobs both for large businesses and for small businesses," the governor said.

The governor also touched on his new proposal to increase the minimum age at which Illinois students can legally drop out from high school from 17 to 18, in line with a proposal Obama outlined in his Tuesday State of the Union address.

The most recent jobs data from Illinois contained some good news -- that the state's unemployment rate is down to 9.8 percent in December, marking the second-straight month of decrease. Still, the state's unemployment rate is still more than the national average of 8.5 percent and is markedly higher than that of Delaware and Maryland, where unemployment sits at 7.4 percent and 6.7 percent respectively.

On Friday, new data revealed that job gains in some parts of the state such as the Peoria area were met with higher unemployment reported in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville metro area.

Last week, State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka revealed that the state's backlog of unpaid bills has reached an estimated $8.5 billion. She and other state GOP leaders, on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the state's income tax increase, have called the increase a "failure" in its attempt to help alleviate the state's ongoing budget problems.