Local Dem politicians back most of Quinn proposals
From Staff Reports February 6, 2013 5:58PM
State Senator Mike Noland, D-Elg
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:40AM
Elgin’s two Democratic state legislators are backing Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State address proposals, for the most part.
A local Republican, however, cautioned that more fiscal restraint is needed.
Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, said he thought the address Wednesday was “spot-on” in its focus on pension reform and accurate in describing his accomplishments; not least of which, his $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! Plan.
Noland also supports a number of proposals the governor made during his speech, including his proposals to reduce gun violence in the state, he said. The senator said he stands behind more stringent background checks for would-be gun owners and limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines, although he said he was “skeptical” of a ban on assault weapons.
He also “absolutely” supports the same-sex marriage bill expected to come to a vote on Valentine’s Day in the Illinois Senate, he said.
But, Noland said, when he talks to residents in his district, “It’s not been the top, burning issue. They want a balanced budget, they want the pension crisis resolved and they want a strong economy.”
That’s why he’s taking a closer look at Senate Bill 1, the pension reform legislation Quinn backed in his speech, he said. The senator said he supports the bill “in principle,” but, “I’m a little concerned that without the cost shift, it’s more of a Band-Aid than a true fix.”
The bill takes parts of a Senate-approved measure and combines them with a bill that recently failed to get a vote in the House that calls for increased contributions from and reduced benefits for state workers.
Rep. Keith Farnham agreed, D-Elgin, that pension reform should be the top priority for legislators.
But he said he would like to study more closely what Senate Bill 1 has to offer.
Farnham is concerned that any reform will be able to make it through the courts, and he wants it to include input from labor and management.
He hopes that conceal-and-carry and the weapons and ammunition proposals put forward are considered as separate measures, lest one or the other be challenged in the courts.
“There has to be a reasonable path somewhere,” Farnham said of any gun-related legislation.
Farnham is heading an economic development committee which he says will focus on small to mid-sized businesses and manufacturing and which he hopes to take on the road across the state.
As such, Farnham said the governor touching on those issues struck a chord with him.
“Manufacturing has been part of our strength as a state, and we have to grow that,” Farnham said.
While Quinn’s popularity is low, “As long as he is governor, I will support him.”
At the same time, Farnham added, “It behooves us in the House and Senate to be leaders. We have to step up to the challenges we face.”
And freshman state Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, said that although Quinn has a lot of good goals, he seems to lack the level of fiscal discipline needed given the state of the state. His was more of a campaign speech listing accomplishments and goals than a speech offering evidence Quinn can provide leadership to bring divergent interests together and guide the state out of its financial crises, said McConnaughay, who represents the 33rd District.
Freshman Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-South Elgin, said that although Quinn has a lot of good goals, he seems to lack the level of fiscal discipline needed, given the state of the state.
His was more of a campaign speech listing accomplishments and goals, McConnaughay said, than a speech offering evidence Quinn can provide leadership to bring divergent interests together and guide the state out of its financial crises.
Staff writers Emily McFarlan Miller
and Mike Danahey contributed to this report.