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Chicago casino? Not yet

Thursday, May 17, 2007

* Don’t get too excited yet about a Chicago casino, or any new casinos for that matter. There’s a whole lot more opposition to any expansion idea than you might think

Sources told CBS 2 Daley signed off on a tentative deal that could, after years of discussion, finally bring a casino to downtown Chicago, as well as to south suburban Cook County, north suburban Lake County and a site still to be determined within 8 miles of O’Hare Airport.

Chicago’s casino would have up to 5,000 positions for slot machines, card and dice games and roulette. City Hall’s tax take could be 20 percent of the anticipated $1 billion plus annual gross, or more than $200 million a year.

Nine existing casino boats would get thousands of new slot machines and other gambling positions. Horse tracks would share millions in new dollars from a so-called impact fee, tentatively 3 percent of gross receipts of all the new gambling.

The gaming expansion sounds like an easy thing to do for people who aren’t all that concerned with more casinos, but there are religious and moral opponents, the existing casino owners aren’t thrilled and the racetrack owners can never seem to get along.

* Meanwhile, Daley refused to come out and support an income tax hike yesterday…

Pressed on whether he favors a hike in the state income tax, the mayor said, “This is the first time ever in the history of Illinois that the business community has ever come together and said, ‘We’d like to increase the income tax.’ So listen to their voice. They want a better education system.”

Daley said “everything should be on the table,” including his on-again-off-again quest for a Chicago casino.

* One reason for that could be the growing feeling that a tax hike is becoming more unlikely

“There’s not a whole lot of enthusiasm to raise taxes in the General Assembly,” [House Speaker Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown] said.

* Brown also explained some of the reasons behind Madigan’s refusal to meet with Gov. Blagojevich this spring

“We take the governor at his word. He wants want he wants, no changes, and anything different he’ll veto and then call special sessions until what we do is repealed. Given that, a meeting doesn’t seem like a productive use of time,” said Brown.

Translation: Until the guv chills out and is ready to seriously bargain, there ain’t gonna be no meeting.

* Into the fray comes a new proposal, from Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson…

New to the mix was a sales tax idea floated by state Sen. Debbie Halvorson, a Crete Democrat. Her plan would reduce the state’s sales tax – now at 6.25 percent – to 3 percent but then expand its scope to include services.

Currently, services like haircuts, lawn mowing, brake jobs and so on are not subject to the state’s sales tax.

Halvorson couldn’t provide details on how much money it would generate, but such a move would result in more money coming into state coffers. However, it also may well run afoul of the governor’s vow to veto any sales or income tax increase. The governor previously has nixed the idea of taxing services.

But see Brown’s comments above while you’re figuring whether this idea has a chance or not.

* More tax and spend stories, compiled by Paul…

* Daley lobbies for more funding for schools, CTA

* Daley takes agenda to Springfield

* Schoenburg: Governor’s big-splash style leaves him out of touch

* New plan is old: lease the lottery

* Leasing lottery still alive in negotiations

* New plan is old: lease the lottery

* Editorial: State fiscal reform going nowhere

* Gabel: Affordable health care within reach

- Posted by Rich Miller        


17 Comments
  1. - Objective Dem - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 10:02 am:

    I don’t like the idea of expanding the number of businesses who have to pay sales tax. This will create additional paperwork for too many small businesses. I also suspect too many services will become unreported cash transactions.

    Like the much discussed idea of swapping property tax reductions for an increase in income tax, I could support a decrease in sales tax in return for an increase in income tax. One reason is sales tax are regressive.


  2. - Cassandra - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 10:02 am:

    Maybe we should leave Chicago out of the tax hike discussion. The city is so wealthy that they could easily fund whatever they want to by simply placing a city tax on its wealthiest citizens. But no, they want to ride on the rest of the state.

    As to us Illinoisians as a whole, perhaps it would be better for us if the state takes a year
    off from tax raising plans to set some priorities and to consider some cuts as well as tax increases. The most dangerous result of the apparent demise of the GRT could be an ill-thought-out rush to impose some newfangled taxes or sell something major without adequate discussion. If anybody loses in that scenario, it will be middle class taxpayers as we are always the sole target–and the sole losers (not the wealthy, just the middle class) in any tax raising schemes. The so-called poor live here free.

    Let us pay our increased gas and electricity rates in peace.


  3. - i d - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 11:02 am:

    No new taxes; cut the budget.


  4. - Objective Dem - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 11:19 am:

    Cassandra,

    How about some evidence that the City rides on the backs of the rest of the state?

    I’ve heard downstate called the “Socialist Republic of Southern Illinois.” After you get past Peoria, all the large employers are the State, the state prisons, the state universities, the state parks, and the local schools supported by state taxes. Oh I forgot, you do have ADM in Decatur which is supported by federal ethanol programs.


  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 11:24 am:

    Cassandra, how would the city place a tax on its wealthiest citizens? OD has a fairly good point, although the red-baiting stuff is over the top.


  6. - Objective Dem - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 11:40 am:

    Sorry if I was a bit harsh Rich, but it gets old hearing downstaters slam Chicago without cause.


  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 11:41 am:

    :)


  8. - Team Sleep - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 2:08 pm:

    What worries me more is that the Dems in D.C. are going to jack up all of our taxes while also taking away child tax credits and reinstituting the marriage penalty. These proposals in Illinois are peanuts compared to what we will face in a few years. But, the mere thought of increased property taxes makes owning a home rather unpleasant. Property taxes must be reigned in, and I wish that some of the Senate Dems who signed the “no no-growth budget” letter would realize that it’s going to hurt families if nothing is done to stop runaway property taxes.


  9. - Ferdy - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 2:16 pm:

    If Daley would stop funneling tax money from schools to developers with his exponentially growing TIF districts, he wouldn’t have to go to Springfield for funding of education in Chicago. CTA, though, does need help.


  10. - i d - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 2:34 pm:

    Chi town folks, don’t know why you’re complaining about the downstaters because you’re the ones electing the state head honchos from your CITY and they are vacuuming up as many states jobs down here as fast as they can and shipping them back to you. Poor folks from the CITY are you getting scared cause you think the feds are going to incarcerate all your big boys?


  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 2:44 pm:

    Was that really a nyah, nyah post? lol

    If so, here’s one back atcha: I got news for you “i d” - there’s some downstaters with their whatchamacallits in a ringer, too.

    :)


  12. - i d - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 2:46 pm:

    I know, and they deserve all that gets thrown at them.


  13. - i d - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 2:51 pm:

    Sorry, I mixed the metaphors. They deserve to be flattened by the wringer.


  14. - Bill - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 3:25 pm:

    Don’t argue, children!


  15. - Cassandra - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 3:39 pm:

    I don’t live Downstate. I live in a suburb bordering Chicago. We have to pay for everything.

    Illinois cities can’t impose income taxes but I’m not aware of barriers to, for example, personal property taxes such as those on the value of investments. There are no doubt other ways of
    taxing the wealthy. And the constitution can be changed. Again, let me stress, there is huge wealth in Chicago. New York City, an even wealthier city, has an income tax. It’s not written in the sky that Chicago cannot have one as well.


  16. - Objective Dem - Thursday, May 17, 07 @ 4:31 pm:

    Cassandra,
    Last time I looked there was huge wealth in the suburbs. Ever heard of Oak Brook, Barrington Hills, Lake Forest, etc.? It makes no sense to tax Chicago residents but not suburban residents. Last time I checked the a large number of people in the suburbs work in the city, sell products and services to city businesses and residents, vist the city, use the city’s parks and museums, etc. etc. but they don’t pay city property or business taxes. Many of the businesses wouldn’t exist if the city did not exist. Additionally, many suburbs have used exclusionary zoning to keep poor people out so they don’t have to pay for the related services.

    I think your notion of the put upon suburbs is not valid. Any facts to back you up?


  17. - Cassandra - Friday, May 18, 07 @ 1:23 am:

    Most suburbs are not Lake Forest. The median income in my suburb is around $65,000, which is far closer to the overall suburban median I’m sure. There are no wealthy folks in my neighborhood. But Chicago neighborhoods inhabited by the wealthy abound. Ever been to Hyde Park?

    My point is not that all state residents shouldn’t share in an overall state tax burden.
    They should. But in Chicago, there is a huge corruption tax, essentially agreed to by its residents. That is why the CTA, with its antiquated, expensive work rules and acres of newpaper-paper-reading bureaucrats, is in such dire straits. There is nothing I can do about that, I don’t vote there. But Chicago can certainly afford to support an outmoded, expensive bureaucracy if its citizens wish, because the wealth is there.

    Ditto the school system. Same problem with bureaucracy and caving in to the unions…they can afford that. They can afford anything.


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