Illinois Fall Veto Session: Chicago Red Light Cameras, Gambling, Pension Reform & More
As the Illinois General Assembly's fall veto session rallies on in Springfield, debates over gambling, pension reform, red-light cameras in Chicago and tax cuts for CME Group and other companies threatening to leave the state remain ongoing.
With the fall veto session set to conclude Thursday, here is where some of the legislature's most pressing issues stand. Last-minute action on any of these issues is likely, so stay posted here or to Capitol Fax's live blog for breaking updates.
RAHM'S RED-LIGHT CAMERAS
A measure paving the way for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's red-light speed camera plan to be implemented was approved Tuesday by a state House committee and late Wednesday afternoon by the full House by a vote of 64-50. As it was already approved by the state Senate, the measure now only needs the signature of Gov. Quinn, according to WBEZ.
On Wednesday, Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe offered some choice words to the Chicago Tribune in describing the revamped, smaller casino expansion bill which a state House panel approved Tuesday. Jaffe specifically called the measure "a pile of junk." Gambling proponent and bill sponsor state Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) rebutted that Jaffe's comments were "appalling."
Still, the comments shouldn't have been all that surprising. Jaffe previously said the original bill was "409 piles of garbage" because he said it presented significant regulatory challenges. Even after the bill was scaled back, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has continued to express some similar concerns. Quinn said last week of those pushing for the bill, "They make it sound like we're all going to go to heaven if we have a casino on every street corner," NBC Chicago reported.
Mayor Emanuel, meanwhile, has called the new legislation "an honest compromise," according to WBEZ.
The latest version of the bill failed in the House Wednesday, despite being approved by a House committee Tuesday, NBC Chicago reports.
Sponsor Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) told NBC that he would bring up the bill again Thursday. He was also confused about why lawmakers who approved the previous version of the gambling measure changed their minds.
A House committee on Tuesday narrowly approved House Bill 512, pension reform legislation, after two hours of testimony. The bill would create a three-tiered retirement system and has been pushed by House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), the State Journal-Register reported. The measure, which has been strongly opposed by labor unions, still needs to be approved by both the state Senate and the full House.
TAX CUTS FOR CME, SEARS
CME Group has continued to push for drastic tax cuts in order for it to stay put in the state of Illinois. The company's chairman Terrence Duffy told Crain's Chicago Business that his company may decide as soon as the end of the week to leave the state unless a deal is reached. The company reportedly paid $108 million in taxes this year and is projected to pay $158 million this year, but the pending legislation would trim their payout to $60 million.
Meanwhile, Sears Holdings Corp., which has also threatened to abandon its Illinois headquarters unless it is granted a better tax deal from the state, is also still waiting for legislative action, the Daily Herald reports. The Tribune notes that action yet this week on tax breaks for both companies is unlikely.
REGIONAL SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT PAY
The Illinois House on Wednesday afternoon approved a bill allowing regional school superintendents to be paid using local tax dollars, according to the State Journal-Register. The bill must be approved by the state Senate before becoming law.
After looking into the so-called Buttongate scandal -- Gov. Quinn's contention that as many as 18 missing House members approved the ComEd rate hike bill last month because others cast their votes for them -- the state's legislative inspector Thomas Homer has not found any such wrongdoing, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Finally, former mayoral candidate Gery Chico has been confirmed by the state Senate for his state Board of Education appointment.