Governor Pat Quinn has devoted his life to standing up for the working people of Illinois and fighting political corruption, government waste, and unfair taxes. He has earned a national reputation as an honest leader who has never been afraid to speak his mind and battle special interests on behalf of everyday men and women.
Pat Quinn was born in Illinois in 1948, the eldest of P.J. and Eileen Quinn's three sons. After attending Catholic grade school, he attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park. He graduated in 1967 and entered Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in international economics and then obtained his law degree from Northwestern University's School of Law in 1980.
The Coalition For Political Honesty
To force passage of tough new ethics laws, Pat Quinn founded the non-partisan, all-volunteer Coalition for Political Honesty in 1975 and launched the biggest petition drive in Illinois history. Quinn and his supporters eventually collected 635,158 signatures on the Political Honesty Initiative and ended a century-old practice that allowed Illinois legislators to collect their entire two years' advance pay on their first day in office.
Quinn took up another fight on behalf of Illinois taxpayers in 1978 when the General Assembly passed a whopping 40% increase in legislators' salaries. Quinn urged outraged taxpayers to invoke the spirit of the Boston Tea Party and send teabags to then Governor James R. Thompson to protest the pay hike. Within days, the Governor's office was overwhelmed with more than 40,000 teabags.
Despite the enormous statewide protest, the legislators underestimated the ire of Illinois taxpayers and refused to rescind the pay raises. In response, Quinn and the Coalition for Political Honesty began a petition drive to reduce the size of the Illinois Legislature, eliminating waste in Springfield by cutting the General Assembly down to size. Quinn coordinated a statewide petition blitz that gathered more than 475,000 signatures in support of the Cutback Amendment. The Amendment was placed on the November 1980 ballot and was solidly approved by voters. As a result, the Illinois House of Representatives was reduced from 177 members to 118.
Reformer And Consumer Advocate
In 1982, Quinn was elected to clean up the scandal-ridden Cook County Board of (Property Tax) Appeals. As Commissioner, he instituted a tough new ethics code, professional auditing standards, and a vigorous taxpayer outreach program. In the words of a Chicago Sun-Times editorial, "he fumigated, reformed and converted a once-corrupt office into a model for taxpayer service, access to records, and openness of process."
Continuing his fight to protect consumers, Pat Quinn launched the 1983 drive to create the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) - a statewide, non-partisan, not-for-profit group to advocate for customers against unfair utility rates. After battling to get the CUB referendum on ballots in 114 Illinois communities, Quinn succeeded in getting the Illinois Legislature to create, and fund, the Citizens Utility Board. Since then, CUB has saved consumers more than $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and winning consumer refunds.
An Innovative State Treasurer
In 1990, Pat Quinn ran a low budget, unconventional campaign for State Treasurer against a well-funded Republican candidate. That November, Quinn delivered a stunning victory with 1.7 million votes - the top total for any state office in that election.
During his term as Illinois State Treasurer, Quinn spearheaded passage of the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act, a landmark bill empowering taxpayers to file lawsuits to root out fraud and waste in state government. The Whistleblower Act - which was later expanded to local units of government - has helped the state of Illinois recover millions of dollars in fraudulent payments.
Under Quinn's guidance, the State Treasurer's office used deposits of state funds as a lever to encourage banks to offer loans that would make housing more affordable for Illinois families and give women and minorities access to capital to expand their small businesses. These linked-deposits served to create Illinois jobs and economic opportunity at virtually no cost to taxpayers and brought Treasurer Quinn accolades for his sophistication, aggressiveness and innovation.
In 1993, Treasurer Quinn proposed the Inspector Misconduct Act, to prohibit state employees from demanding campaign contributions from the businesses and individuals they inspect and regulate. As a result of Quinn's efforts, the Inspector Misconduct Act passed and was signed into law in 2002.
Standing Up For Illinois As Lt. Governor
Pat Quinn became Lt. Governor of Illinois in 2003. As Lt. Governor, he fought for significant new programs to protect the environment, expand health care, and provide critical assistance to members of the U.S. Armed Services and their families.
In his role as the state's top elected advocate for Illinois' military men and women and their families, Quinn led the successful effort to enact the Illinois Military Family Relief Act, which provides financial assistance to families of Illinois National Guard members and Reservists called to active duty. He also spearheaded passage of the Let Them Rest in Peace Act, which became a national model in protecting grieving families from disruptive protests at military funerals.
As Lt. Governor, Quinn continued his fight to reform state government, repeatedly defying Illinois' entrenched culture of pay-to-play politics and official corruption. Quinn stood up to criticize an inadequate reform of the scandal-plagued Illinois State Toll Highway Authority in 2004, earning a threat of political "divorce" from the Blagojevich Administration.
Refusing to back down, Quinn continued to demand the clean, accountable government Illinois taxpayers deserve. In 2007, with $25 billion in taxpayer funds at stake in a proposed capital plan, Quinn insisted on passage of legislation to outlaw pay-to-play in Illinois before hefty contracts could be awarded to cronies and campaign funders with deep pockets. He also led opposition to Governor Rod R. Blagojevich's attempts to pass the "grossly unfair" Gross Receipts Tax.
In 2008, Quinn began a petition drive to oppose a 7.5 percent pay raise for Illinois lawmakers. Within 48 hours, Quinn had collected more than 17,000 signatures - enough to pressure the General Assembly into calling a vote and canceling their own raises.
Quinn also led the statewide opposition to the Blagojevich Administration's closing of 23 Illinois state parks and historic sites.
Governor Pat Quinn
Pat Quinn was sworn in as Governor of Illinois on January 29, 2009, after the impeachment and removal from office of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich.
Since taking office, Governor Quinn has devoted himself to balancing the state budget, creating new jobs and new opportunities for Illinois families, bringing fairness to our tax code and leading the fight to reform state government.
In his first act as Governor, Quinn signed an executive order establishing the Illinois Reform Commission. The independent, bipartisan Commission developed a menu of important reforms to bring fairness, honesty, transparency and accountability to Illinois government.
Governor Quinn took swift action to reopen state parks and historic sites that had been closed by the Blagojevich Administration, ensuring access for the 44 million people who visit the state's recreational areas each year - generating an estimated $790 million in overall economic impact in Illinois.
On April 3, Governor Quinn signed into law his $3 billion Jump Start Capital Plan - Illinois' first capital construction program in 10 years. Combined with the federal stimulus funds, the Jump Start Capital Plan will create thousands of jobs in Illinois.
Today, Governor Quinn splits his time between the Executive Mansion in Springfield and his longtime home in Chicago's Galewood neighborhood. He is the proud father of two grown sons, Patrick and David.