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5 things to know about Quinn's State of the State speech

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  • Gov. Pat Quinn will deliver his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Wednesday at the Capitol in Springfield.

      Gov. Pat Quinn will deliver his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Wednesday at the Capitol in Springfield.
    Associated Press/Dec. 24, 2013

 
Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn is set to give his annual State of the State speech Wednesday, the second time he has addressed state legislators and constitutional officers during an election year since taking office in 2009. Here are five things to know about the Chicago Democrat's speech:

1. ISSUES

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Quinn has said he'll focus on jobs and building the middle class. He's likely to make an argument for raising the minimum wage, something he has campaigned on and detailed in last year's speech. He says he'd like to see Illinois' $8.25 rate jump to at least $10 this year.

The issue has been prominent in the 2014 election year, with Democrats at a national level pushing for it and most Republican gubernatorial candidates in Illinois lining up against it because of worries that it would kill jobs.

When asked about the speech last week, Quinn said: "The strength of Illinois (is) the men and women of our state. Parents who are raising children, folks who are doing hard jobs and doing them well, we want to salute them too."

2. NEW PROPOSALS

The State of the State usually is an opportunity for governors to propose new ideas, whether bigger picture or arcane.

Last year Quinn called for ethics reform and a ban on assault weapons. In 2012, he proposed that companies drilling in the outer continental shelf and profit from doing business in Illinois pay a share of corporate income tax in the state.

This year, Quinn is expected to announce an extension of a loan program that's designed to upgrade water aging systems, a grant to help open a center for medical technology startups and possibly details on a new capital construction program.

3. ELECTION YEAR

It's not the first time Quinn has made the speech while on the campaign trail.

In 2010, just a year after he took over for the impeached ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Quinn was locked in a tough Democratic primary with then-Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes.

This March, Quinn has one lesser-known Democratic challenger, Tio Hardiman, who has been an anti-violence activist in Chicago for years. Four candidates are seeking the GOP nomination: State Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Brady lost the governor's race to Quinn in 2010.

4. BRAGGING RIGHTS

The annual address is a chance for Illinois' top leader to list his top accomplishments. Quinn is expected to talk about signing a landmark overhaul aimed at solving the state's nearly $100 billion pension problem, legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois and Medicaid reforms.

It'll also be an opportunity for Quinn to remind people how he largely has avoided scandals and cleaned up the image of the governor's office. Coincidentally, the address falls on the five year anniversary of when lawmakers booted Blagojevich from office. He was the second consecutive governor -- following former Gov. George Ryan -- to be sent to prison on corruption charges.

5. LENGTH

Quinn's first State of the State speech in 2010 was his longest at about 73 minutes and it was largely unscripted. His formal speeches since then -- including his January 2011 inaugural address -- have clocked in around half an hour.

The shortest speech was in 2011 at 27 minutes. That's when his budget speech essentially also served as a State of the State since he'd already laid out his vision in the inaugural speech.

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