Governor Pat Quinn has devoted his life to fighting political corruption, government waste, unfair taxes, and standing up for the working people and consumers of Illinois. He has earned a national reputation as an ethical and honest reformer who always puts working families first.
Pat Quinn was born in Illinois in 1948, the eldest of Eileen and the late P.J. Quinn’s three sons. His boyhood was spent in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, then Hinsdale, where he attended Catholic grade school. He attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park, where he was captain of the cross-country team, and graduated in 1967.
Pat entered Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He was sports editor of the Georgetown student newspaper and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1971 with a degree in international economics. He obtained his law degree from Northwestern University’s School of Law in 1980.
To force passage of tough ethics laws, Pat Quinn founded the nonpartisan, all-volunteer Coalition for Political Honesty in 1975 and launched the largest petition drive in Illinois history. Quinn and his supporters collected 635,158 signatures on the Political Honesty Initiative to end a century-old practice that allowed Illinois legislators to collect their entire two years’ pay in advance on their first day in office.
In 1978, Quinn took up another fight on behalf of Illinois taxpayers when the General Assembly passed a whopping 40% increase in legislators’ salaries. Invoking the spirit of the Boston Tea Party, Quinn urged outraged taxpayers send teabags to then-Governor James Thompson in protest. Within days, the Governor’s office was overwhelmed with 40,000 teabags. Despite the statewide fury, legislators refused to rescind their pay raises. So, Quinn launched a statewide petition drive to reduce the size of the Illinois Legislature that gathered 475,000 signatures. The Cutback Amendment was placed on the 1980 ballot and overwhelmingly approved by voters. As a result, the Illinois House – one of the largest legislative bodies in the nation – was cut from 177 members to 118.
In 1982, Pat Quinn was elected to clean up the scandal-ridden Cook County Board of (Property Tax) Appeals. As Commissioner, he instituted a tough ethics code, professional auditing standards and a vigorous taxpayer outreach program. A Chicago Sun-Times editorial said, “…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, Quinn launched the 1983 drive to create the Citizens Board (CUB) – a statewide, nonpartisan, 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 the Citizens Utility Board. Since then, CUB has saved consumers more than $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and winning refunds.
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.
At Quinn’s direction, the State Treasurer’s office used deposits of state funds as a lever to encourage banks to offer loans to make housing more affordable for Illinois families, and give women and minorities access to capital to expand small businesses.
During his term as Illinois State Treasurer, Quinn spearheaded passage of the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act, to empower taxpayers to file lawsuits to root out fraud and waste in state government. The Whistleblower Act – later expanded to local units of government – has helped the state of Illinois recover millions of dollars in fraudulent payments. He also proposed the Inspector Misconduct Act, to prohibit state employees from demanding campaign contributions from businesses and individuals they inspect or regulate. As a result of his dogged efforts, the Inspector Misconduct Act became law in 2002.
Pat Quinn was elected Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 2002.
Quinn deployed this office like never before to advocate for Illinois’ military men and women and their families, leading the successful effort to enact the Illinois Military Family Relief Act, which has since provided $15.1 million in financial assistance to more than 29,000 families of those called to active duty. Since its creation, the Illinois Military Relief Fund has become a model for 35 other states and helped military families buy groceries, pay utility bills and get by while their loved one is serving.
As Chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council, Quinn launched the Sister Rivers Initiative and innovative Mud-to-Parks project, and helped to halt bulldozers from destroying eagle nests and Native American sites on Plum Island near Starved Rock State Park. He pushed for creation of the Green Government Coordinating Council, which is now in the forefront of sustainable, green solutions.
Pat Quinn was first sworn in as Governor of Illinois on January 29, 2009 after the impeachment and removal from office of Governor Rod Blagojevich. He went on to win election to a full term in 2010.
When Governor Quinn took the oath of office, Illinois was in a state of emergency: an unprecedented triple crisis caused by two corrupt governors in a row; decades of financial mismanagement; and the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Governor Quinn immediately got to work, rebuilding Illinois one hard step at a time.
In his first act as Governor, he established the Illinois Reform Commission, and went on to enact a strong new ethics code, campaign finance reform and a new constitutional amendment to allow voters to recall any governor guilty of corruption.
With the Great Recession in full swing, Governor Quinn made job creation and economic recovery his top priority. Quinn enacted the largest construction program in Illinois history, which has built and repaired 7,595 miles of road, 1,311 bridges and 978 schools, supporting 400,000 jobs along the way.
He launched the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, putting thousands of construction, manufacturing and skilled trade workers back to work repairing and updating Illinois’ aging water systems.
Quinn also provided loans to help small businesses grow and enacted major reforms to worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance systems to make Illinois a better place to do business. He partnered with Ford and Chrysler to create more jobs and opportunities for Illinois workers.
When he took office, Chrysler employed just 200 people at its Belvidere plant. After the governor partnered with Chrysler, Chrysler now employs more than 4,500 workers at that same plant.
When he took office, Ford had just one shift. After the Governor partnered with Ford, they now have three shifts.
Governor Quinn promoted Illinois around the world and got results. For example, after his trade mission to Canada, FER-PAL – a company that upgrades water systems – moved their North American headquarters to Elgin. After his trade mission to Germany, Rittal – an international manufacturer of IT and electrical enclosures – moved their North American headquarters from Ohio to Schaumburg.
After his meetings with Nippon Sharyo – a world-class high-speed railcar manufacturer – they chose Illinois for their expansion.
The Governor also doubled the value of the Earned Income Tax Credit in Illinois to provide working families with tax relief and drive economic growth.
Unlike his predecessors, Governor Quinn made the tough calls to balance the budget. He cut more than one billion dollars in wasteful spending and led the charge to overhaul our Medicaid program to save taxpayers over two billion dollars.
Perhaps most significantly, Governor Quinn enacted comprehensive and necessary pension reform, something no governor or legislature has been able to do. Moody’s said it “may be the largest reform package implemented” by any state in the nation.
And even while making the tough calls to return Illinois to sound financial footing, Governor Quinn did it with compassion, always protecting the most vulnerable, including our children. He made sure to protect education from extreme and radical budget cuts and went on to enact bold education reforms that have become a model for the nation.
Quinn has made Illinois a more welcoming place for all people, from enacting full marriage equality for all couples to improving nursing home conditions.
All along, Governor Quinn has never forgotten his commitment to making Illinois the most veteran-friendly state in America, leading several initiatives to make life better for Illinois service members and their families.
The governor 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.