Politics
4:38 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Governor Quinn Visits Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge

On Monday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn paid a visit to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge in East St. Louis.

Quinn said the bridge will reduce congestion and pollution and praised the jobs the project has created. He also hopes the project nurtures a positive relationship between Missouri and Illinois.

"We wanted to come together because the best way to help the most people is a j-o-b-- a job, and especially when we build a bridge, a bridge between two great states-- our state of Illinois and the state of Missouri," Quinn said. "We're partners. We're partners in economic growth and job creation."

Illinois state representative Jay Hoffman says the project is under budget and on time. The estimated $708 million bridge is scheduled to open in March 2014, four months before the original completion date.

Quinn also used his visit to speak about following through with his controversial promise: since the state legislature failed to come up with a solution to the state's nearly $100 billion pension crisis, he has cut lawmakers' salaries from the state budget.

But some say that he can't do that.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is questioning the constitutionality of the Democratic governor's move to withhold the salaries of legislators - about $68,000 apiece.

She points to a line in the state constitution that says "changes in the salary of a member shall not take effect during the term for which he has been selected."

While in East St. Louis, Quinn brushed aside the question of constitutionality.

"I don't think there's any question about it," he said. "The people of Illinois voted in a referendum in 1970 for a new constitution that gives the Governor item-veto authority over appropriations. The appropriation for legislator's salaries was part of the budget."

Quinn has also stated he will not receive a salary as well.

In addition to pensions, Quinn has said he will continue to keep fighting concealed carry laws.

Six days after lawmakers overrode his veto of a concealed carry bill, he said he will keep fighting for changes.

Quinn said he especially wants to see restrictions for establishments selling alcohol. 

"That's a toxic mixture," he said. "You don't want someone with a weapon loaded who's drinking too much, and I think establishments that have liquor licenses in Illinois should not allow folks with guns in them. I think that's simple, common sense. We'll keep working on that."

An appeals court ruled last year that Illinois' concealed gun ban was unconstitutional. Illinois is the last state to allow concealed carry of firearms.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel