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Quinn, Rauner trade jabs on Illinois’ unemployment rate

Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday painted his opponent, Bruce Rauner, as an Oscar the Grouch type character who, upon hearing news of a decline in the state’s unemployment rate, had a knee-jerk negative reaction.

Quinn’s announcement touting Illinois’ unemployment rate of 7.9 percent — the lowest since 2008 — prompted GOP gubernatorial candidate Rauner to release a statement that said: “It’s disappointing to see Pat Quinn celebrate Illinois keeping the worst unemployment rate in the Midwest and one of the highest in the entire nation.”

In a tit for tat, Quinn said at a news conference on the factory floor of United Gasket, a thriving Cicero-based company: “Rather than having some grumpy person complaining all the time, we’re celebrating here a wonderful company that’s doing well.”

Cicero Town President Larry Dominick, whom Quinn referred to as “our good friend,” attended the event.

“We’re not going to be kicking our state in the shin. . . . There are those on the other side that I guess are unhappy any times there’s good economic news,” Quinn said.

A Rauner spokesman had no additional comment.

Quinn avoided offering any specifics on the state budget when asked about the possibility of passage of an extension of the 2011 income-tax increase. Instead, he repeatedly pointed to his work to pass a “responsible budget.”