GRANITE CITY — Gov. Quinn spoke about alternative energy, Illinois' industrial base and the showdown over legislators' paychecks at a stop in Granite City Friday.
Quinn spoke at Heidtman Steel Products in Granite City. Heidtman received $2.28 million in federal grants for equipment that allowed it to start making steel wind turbines for Illinois' growing wind industry.
Heidtman Vice President Gene Cope thanked Quinn for the government investment.
"It's important to build on what we have here, and continue to hire," he said. "Not only do (workers) benefit, but so do their families and the community."
Quinn said Heidtman was a good example of a company adapting to a changing economy after the auto and steel industries were hit hard in the recession.
Heidtman has seen a 50 percent increase in its steel products produced over the past five years, which Heidtman President Tim Berra attributed to the grant funding for new equipment.
Granite City economic developer John Ferry said that Heidtman was the city's 15th largest employer, purchasing steel from the largest employer, U.S. Steel. Since 2007, Ferry said, there has been more than $1 billion of new investment in Granite City businesses, all but $60 million of which was private funding rather than public projects.
Quinn also addressed the issue of legislators' paychecks, which he had stopped in an effort to force the legislature to pass pension reform. A recent judicial ruling reversed his decision, and Republican comptroller Judy Baar Topinka issued the paychecks to legislators.
But Quinn said he hopes the legislators don't cash those checks.
"We have to resolve the $100 billion pension liability," he said. "No legislator should take a paycheck until the job is done. It's a principle as old as the Bible: you don't get paid until the job is done."
Quinn said he is refusing his salary until he has a pension bill, and he doesn't think anyone else should be paid either.
"I think we can get it done if everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel," Quinn said. "Get it on my desk, I'll sign it in a Belleville minute."
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2507.