With the installation of almost 40,000 new gaming positions potentially at stake statewide, the casino expansion bill which languished in legislative purgatory all summer remains, essentially, at a standstill in the midst of the Springfield veto session.
On Wednesday, gambling expansion supporters, led by State Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) introduced a new bill they said should take care of the bulk of Governor Pat Quinn's many concerns with the expansion.
While its proponents say the new bill, Senate Bill 747, increases oversight, reduces the number of gaming positions and offers more funding for education, the governor's office criticized Link's legislation as a "charade" and "not a legitimate proposal," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. The governor's plan for gaming expansion cut slot machines proposed for horse racing tracks and O'Hare and Midway International airports, among other tweaks.
"We laid out a framework for gambling expansion," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told the News Cooperative. "You don't plop it in a bill and call it a day without the participation of the governor's office."
Quinn's consistent opposition to the gaming expansion bill drew the criticism of State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, who told the State Journal-Register that he was curious how "the governor who has lamented the lack of revenue would so flippantly turn his back on this revenue." Per the Daily Herald, Murphy said Quinn has exhibited a "failure of leadership" with how the governor has handled the ongoing gambling debate.
The original gaming legislation, Senate Bill 744, paved the way for five new Illinois casinos to be built, including one in downtown Chicago, for which Mayor Rahm Emanuel has expressed his support as both a revenue and job generator. The measure was put on a legislative hold by Senate President John Cullerton (D), a supporter of the expansion, after it was narrowly approved by the state General Assembly this spring, reportedly because he feared the governor's veto.
Cullerton reportedly met with Quinn to discuss the matter in a private setting this week. Meanwhile, state Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the gambling bill is off the table for discussion during the rest of this week's session and that "there's a chance" the issue may not be taken up at all during the state legislature's next short session, which begins Nov. 8.
Photo by Rob Boudon via Flickr.