Quinn Faces Gambling Deadline Tuesday
By Jeff Bossert
Gov. Pat Quinn isn't giving any hints about what he'll do with a gambling bill that Illinois lawmakers sent to his desk
Tomorrow is the deadline for Quinn to take action on legislation that would establish five new casinos in the state, including one in Danville and another in Chicago. It would also allow slot machines at horse racing tracks.
At an unrelated event in suburban Chicago today, Quinn said he spent the weekend reading the bill and he'll announce his decision tomorrow. He declined to say if he'd arrived at a decision.
Quinn gets 60 days from when lawmakers approve legislation to decide to sign, veto or propose changes.
Previously, Quinn has said he won't likely sign the bill as it is and says his biggest concern about it is ethics.
One legislator from the Danville area predicts Quinn will veto the measure, requiring an override by the legislature this fall. But Hays says the mere fact the bill is on the governor’s desk is a sign of progress.
"I think part of the issue is that the governor hasn't been very forthcoming," he said. "Specifically, A,B,C,D,E, this is what I would like changed with the bill. So the process has become a little bit of a mind reading exercise, which is very difficult. I was very grateful that (Senate) President (John) Cullerton did forward the bill to the governor this time around."
Last fall, Cullerton never forwarded a gaming bill to Quinn’s desk, fearing a veto.
Hays says the concept of the Danville casino has never been about gaming, but economic development, infusing private sector dollars into the community, and creating jobs.
But Alderman Bill Black of Danville, who also chairs the statewide Revenue and Jobs Alliance, says he’s encouraged the Governor has ‘lowered his rhetoric’ regarding the measure.
Black says he hopes Quinn’s careful review of the bill proves to him that it’s an economic necessity, bringing in funds from casino licensing fees, and creating jobs.
"We think that this is about a $250 to $400-million dollar increase in revenue per year; along with a billion dollars in licensing fees alone," he said. "And 20-some thousand jobs in the state that's desperate for jobs and desperate for revenue."
Black says his panel is more than willing to discuss a so-called ‘trailer bill’ that would address Quinn’s ethical concerns, including a ban on contributions to legislators from gambling interests.
A former Illinois House member, Black also believes Quinn is warming towards allowing slot machines at horse racing facilities, noting that portion of the bill will help support Illinois’ state and county fairs.
But Black wouldn’t predict what the governor would do.