Metro-east lawmakers were not too thrilled with Gov. Pat Quinn's State of the State address Wednesday.
Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, said the address did not have enough substance on financial issues.
"When you don't start talking about your largest problem, the debt and the deficit of this state, you miss the point," Kay said. "That was a great campaign speech. It was not a State of the State speech."
Kay said some of Quinn's proposals, such as legalizing gay marriage, are social issues that play well with Chicago-area voters. Kay said states that raise the minimum wage typically see a corresponding increase in unemployment, "and I think that's what you can expect here."
As for Quinn's discussion of guns, Kay noted that the governor spoke both of outlawing types of guns and ammo magazines, while also protecting citizens' Second Amendment rights.
"I think we all kind of gasped and wondered what that meant," Kay said.
Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, said he disagrees with Quinn's stances on gay marriage and raising the minimum wage.
"I liked the thought, his mention, of pension reform. It's what is on all of our minds at the moment in Illinois," Haine said. "And the mention of righting our fiscal ship. The key to righting it is doing something about the pensions."
He added: "What I didn't hear was calling people together to negotiate it, and hearing from all those thousands of retirees, and representatives of current employees, to make certain the pension reforms are fiscally sound for the state, as well as fair and constitutional for those who have made a life decision of public employment. Certainly there are going to be unhappy people. Our pension system is going to change ... but how it changes should be the result of hearing from all different groups."
As for gun laws, Haine said they "have to be done after consideration of those law-abiding citizens who lawfully possess firearms. They're not shooting people. The silver lining, I think, in the cloud, is the governor's recommendation on reforming the mental health system, to look at how we commit people, to see if there are gaps there."
Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said: "I think this was, for the most part, a campaign speech. I don't think it was substantive at all. The governor kept talking about 'that's our Illinois,' but I don't think anyone else in the room could recognize his Illinois, because it was quite fictional."
McCarter suggested Quinn lacks the ability or desire to overhaul pensions.
"Just saying you want pension reform is not the same as putting down a plan to obtain it. I can criticize that, because I put down my own plan. I put down a detailed plan to reform all five pension systems, and save about $150 billion."
McCarter said Quinn and his fellow Democrats, who control both the House and Senate, could reform pensions if they wanted.
"They've got all the votes they need to pass this. They have no more excuses," McCarter said.
McCarter said Quinn's proposed gun measures are "completely off base."
"Maybe he thought this helped in the polls. Maybe he thinks this helps him going into a primary. But it sure didn't do anything to help put people back to work in this state," McCarter said.
Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said: "I know it's the job of the governor to put as good of a spin on it as possible. It's all about votes and it's all about trying to show people you're doing a good job. I guess what I hoped he'd say is, 'We are near bankruptcy, and we need to deal with it.'"
Luechtefeld said he has been preaching for years that a financial crisis was imminent, and now it's arrived.
"And yet it doesn't seem, at least in this speech, that there was the urgency that we need," he said.
On the issue of guns, Luechtefeld said Quinn's last proposal to ban so-called assault weapons included many that are used for hunting.
"Tell me what he means by assault weapon? I'm not real sure, and I don't think he knows," Luechtefeld said.
On the proposal to increase the minimum wage, Luechtefeld said Quinn "needs to worry more about jobs that you can raise your family on. Minimum wage jobs, you can't raise your family on. They are supplemental, many times college students or young people. He needs to worry about creating a climate in this state where you can get good jobs, and businesses don't continue to leave the state."
Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, said Quinn did not adequately address the budget issues, and instead "gave a campaign speech about social issues, gun control and elections."
He added, "We've got big problems in Illinois. Vendors are forced to go 18 months or more without getting paid. The developmentally disabled are being kicked out of capable facilities because they supposedly cost too much. And rather than offer up suggestions and ideas on how to address these issues, the governor gave a vague speech and pushed to increase spending."
In the address, Quinn touted the closing of "outdated" state facilities for the mentally disabled, such as the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. Quinn said moving people with developmental disabilitites into "community care" gives them a better quality of life and saves the state money.
Meier said Quinn should have talked about whether he wants an end to the temporary, 67 percent income tax increase.
"How does the governor plan on making sure the temporary income tax increase actually stays temporary? He didn't say. There was a lot he didn't say, and I'm disappointed," Meier said.
Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton; Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville; and Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson Sr., D-East St. Louis, could not be reached for comment.
Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, was absent from the speech.