If you know anything about Illinois and Chicago politics, then you have heard of the infamy and notoriety—the unfortunate perception about Illinois politics being corrupt and the “Windy City” getting its moniker from its politics, not the wind. But that’s just half the story.
You may have also heard of Pat Quinn, the current governor who deserves four more years at the helm of Illinois to see this recovery through. He is the other half of that story: the better half that needs to be told.
When Governor Quinn took the oath of office in 2009, Illinois was in a state of emergency: an unprecedented triple crisis caused by two corrupt governors in a row (and subsequently in jail), decades of financial mismanagement, and the worst recession since the Great Depression. With all that in mind, imagine doing your job while people were skeptical of a corrupt government that you inherited from the start.
Granted, Democrats as a whole are not immune to this deserved skepticism—we own supermajorities in the state, and own Cook County, the second most populous county in the country. But voting for Republican Bruce Rauner for the sake of voting for a Republican is not the right course of action either, and when it comes down to the policy, potential, and character of our highest state leader, Pat Quinn wins the debate and deserves your vote.
Despite what challenger Bruce Rauner may say about term limits for “politicians” (whatever that means—as if he himself is not one) Pat Quinn is the type of longtime Illinois political stalwart that we do wish to see—someone who has been around, and who understands Illinois and the people who call it home. He is someone who seeks to make sure everyone is in and nobody is left out of the political process.
Pat Quinn began his career as a community organizer, founded the Coalition for Political Honesty, and helped co-found the state’s Citizen Utility Board, a consumer watchdog association. He suspended his own pay and the pay of state legislators until they resolved the issues facing the state. He has always been for the people of Illinois.
He has expanded Illinois’ economy, bringing unemployment to the lowest level in 6 years. He has helped balance the budget. He has increased funding for education and will continue to do so.
After reaching office, Governor Quinn immediately got to work, rebuilding Illinois one hard step at a time. In his first act as governor, he established the Illinois Reform Commission, and went on to enact a strong new ethics code, campaign finance reform, and a new constitutional amendment to allow voters to recall any governor guilty of corruption.
Illinois was in a mess due to decades of financial mismanagement. His administration balanced the budget by cutting more than $5 billion in state spending and overhauled our Medicaid program to save taxpayers billions of dollars and preserve the social safety net.
With the Great Recession in full swing, Governor Quinn made job creation and economic recovery his top priority. Quinn enacted the largest construction program in Illinois history, which has built and repaired 7,595 miles of road, 1,311 bridges, and 978 schools, supporting 400,000 jobs along the way.
He launched the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, putting thousands of construction, manufacturing, and skilled trade workers back to work repairing and updating Illinois’ aging water systems.
Quinn also provided loans to help small businesses grow and enacted major reforms to worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance systems to make Illinois a better place to do business. He partnered with Ford and Chrysler to create more jobs and opportunities for Illinois workers.
When he took office, Chrysler employed just 200 people at its Belvidere plant. After the governor partnered with Chrysler, Chrysler now employs more than 4,500 workers at that same plant.
Governor Quinn promoted Illinois around the world and got results. For example, after his trade mission to Canada, FER-PAL—a company that upgrades water systems—moved their North American headquarters to Elgin. After his trade mission to Germany, Rittal—an international manufacturer of IT and electrical enclosures—moved their North American headquarters from Ohio to Schaumburg.
After his meetings with Nippon Sharyo—a world-class high-speed railcar manufacturer— the company chose Illinois for its expansion.
The governor also doubled the value of the Earned Income Tax Credit in Illinois to provide working families with tax relief and drive economic growth.
Unlike his predecessors, Governor Quinn made the tough calls to balance the budget. He cut more than one billion dollars in wasteful spending and led the charge to overhaul our Medicaid program to save taxpayers over two billion dollars. Perhaps most significantly, Governor Quinn enacted comprehensive and necessary pension reform, something no governor or legislature has been able to do. Moody’s said it “may be the largest reform package implemented” by any state in the nation.
And even while making the tough calls to return Illinois to sound financial footing, he made sure to protect education from extreme and radical budget cuts and went on to enact bold education reforms that have become a model for the nation.
Quinn’s latest endorsement from the Rockford Register Star is tepid, sure, but no single person can promise to single-handedly turn a state and all its decades worth of problems around in one fell swoop. At least from this you know, without a doubt, that Quinn’s endorsements are sincere and well-intentioned. The same cannot be said about Bruce Rauner. Just ask Dave McKinney, the widely respected Sun Times political reporter who resigned this past week after he was pulled from the political beat when Rauner complained to McKinney’s bosses. Rauner owned a 10 percent share of Sun Times from 2011 to his divestment immediately preceding his run for government. Rauner owns many estates and looked to purchase the “fourth estate,” the media, was well
All of this is trying to say that Governor Quinn gets things done. He has a plan. Sure, there is still much work to do. But many of the problems and challenges he faces are not of his own doing, though he is ultimately responsible for tackling them. His plan aims to fix the problems within his purview. That’s all we can ask for.
Pat Quinn has a five-year plan for fixing Illinois. The 5 percent income tax will remain, and he is committed to education and infrastructure. You know what you are getting with Quinn. He is accountable, compassionate, and committed to serving Illinois residents and improving their lives.
If our words don’t assuage you, then hear from the man himself (and hold him to this!) to see where he stands on the issues.
Pat Quinn is the leader Illinois needs. He got into public service for you and he will lead Illinois to address your best interests. Bruce Rauner is running for himself. Vote for the candidate who looks out for your best interests. Vote for Governor Quinn.
To see why challenger Bruce Rauner should be elected governor, click here.
The image featured in this article is from the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Flickr page. The original image can be found here.