Quinn spends $1,200 on NYC stock market trip

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was in New York on Tuesday to ring the opening bell at a stock exchange and get some face time on a national cable morning chatfest.

The cost to taxpayers? An estimated $1,200 on airfare and hotel for the governor and a press aide, according to the administration.

A Quinn spokeswoman defended the overnight trip, saying it was well worth the expense because it allows the governor to promote Illinois businesses on an international stage. The administration noted the governor was joined by executives from dozens of Illinois high-tech companies and was there to lead a discussion with business owners about job creation.

“The governor is building and expanding relationships with many small businesses while promoting Illinois’ innovation and high-tech industries, which are critical to creating jobs and will help ensure our state remains on the cutting edge in the global economy,” spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said in a statement.

The timing of Quinn’s trip to open the NASDAQ market has an element of irony, coming as state leaders are scrambling to come up with a plan to keep Chicago’s own exchanges from leaving the state.

CME Group, which operates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, and CBOE Holdings, parent of the Chicago Board Options Exchange, have threatened to set up shop outside of Illinois following this year's major income-tax increase. They argue transactions that originate outside Illinois are unfairly taxed at the state rate.

Quinn and legislative leaders all agree something needs to be done, but the plan began ballooning to include other tax breaks and stalled in Springfield last week. Lawmakers are scheduled to return after Thanksgiving to take up the matter.

In addition to breaks for the exchanges, Quinn and others are also pushing to reinstate a research and development tax credit, which would benefit many of the tech companies Quinn appeared with.

It’s an idea backed by TechAmerica, a technology advocacy group that organized Tuesday’s event in New York. The group praised Quinn’s work helping manufacturing, information technology, biotech and other companies.

“He is very supportive of promoting our industry on a national and international stage,” said Ed Longanecker, executive director of TechAmerica.

It was the second time Quinn has opened the market. He made a similar trip as lieutenant governor in 2008 to mark the launch of the Illinois Tech Index, the first statewide system to track public companies headquartered in the state.

The governor also appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.