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Quinn uses AV powers on pay raises, sales tax

Monday, Aug 31, 2009

* Gov. Quinn used his amendatory veto power again the other day. This time, it was on legislative pay raises…

Gov. Pat Quinn is taking aim at lawmakers’ annual cost of living raises as a way to help the state’s bottom line.

Legislators had forfeited their annual raise this year, but on Friday Quinn used his amendatory veto power to go even further and propose eliminating yearly pay raises for good.

Lawmakers automatically receive a yearly raise to reflect the rate of inflation unless they vote not to take it, as they did this year in a nod to the state’s budget woes.

“Help the state’s bottom line”? More like “Help Quinn’s reelection.” Very Blagojevichian.

From the governor’s AV

Section 35 prohibits officials from receiving a cost of living adjustment in fiscal year 2010. Given our current fiscal situation, that is an appropriate decision. I applaud the General Assembly for taking this difficult step. I propose that we go even further: eliminate the automatic cost of living adjustment for every year going forward.

More

[Quinn] said such salary adjustments should be done away with in all future years, not just the current budget. He suggested lawmakers change the legislation to garner his approval.

The potential problem is that lawmakers aren’t scheduled to take up the governor’s vetoes until October. So while the General Assembly voted to do away with raises, and Quinn said there shouldn’t be any - ever, the actual law putting a stop to the bigger paydays has now been rejected by Quinn.

It remained unclear Friday if Quinn’s action would trigger higher paychecks for state officials in the meantime.

Lawmakers could accept Quinn’s changes during the October session, or override the change and enact the original pay-raise prohibition. If they do nothing, the prohibition on the raises vanishes.

* And speaking of amendatory vetoes, Gov. Quinn finally acted on the so-called STAR Bonds bill, legislation which I’ve called “The worst bill ever”…

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday he would ask the Legislature to cut in half the sales tax benefits sought for [Metro East] University Town Center, a proposed $1 billion entertainment-retail development in Glen Carbon.

The original bill allowed the developer to use all state sales tax money to pay for the project. Quinn cut that in half

Quinn would limit the incentive to 50 percent of new sales tax revenue and only up to 50 percent of total project costs.

Quinn

“We didn’t want to be financing the entire project from state money,” Quinn said after a news conference unrelated to the bill. “We thought, ‘There’s room for the developer to put money in.’”

That’s far more reasonable than the original legislation. But the developer, of course, isn’t happy

“His amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1909 (SB 1909) unnecessarily jeopardizes 10,000 construction jobs and 3,100 full-time equivalent jobs at a time when they are desperately needed,” Holland added. “It is difficult to understand how it is possible to underestimate these tough economic times and the devastating impact of unemployment.”

More

“I hope they haven’t made a mistake that could end up costing us the biggest economic opportunity in our area in probably the last 15 years,” [state Rep. Tom Holbrook] added. “We compete with Missouri, a state that has more incentives. We have higher unemployment. We needed to do something to hook a major development to our area.”

I mostly agree with the Belleville News-Democrat’s take

It’s a change that better protects the interest of the taxpayers while still providing an incredibly sweet incentive to developers. Quinn points out, correctly, that as the bill was written, it was possible that the developer might gain more financially than the taxpayers. The state Department of Revenue estimates the state and local governments might lose $15 million a year in tax revenue, mainly by cannibalization of sales tax-producing businesses in nearby communities.

By scaling back the incentive, Quinn ensures that the state treasury will immediately share in the benefits of any development. We’re still not thrilled with the idea of putting so much public money into private business, but state leaders believe incentives are needed to spur development.

We urge lawmakers to approve this change. If a developer isn’t willing to pay for half of the cost of a project, it probably shouldn’t be built.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


9 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 10:33 am:

    In essence, Quinn is giving GA incumbents a second chance to vote against pay raises for themselves before the primary. In the Byzantine world of Springfield, that could actually be interpreted as a gift.


  2. - Jambo - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 10:43 am:

    You failed to mention the two worst aspects of this bill:

    1. It requires the parcel be at least 30% floodplain, so once again the taxpayer will end up paying for inevitable flood damage.

    2. One of the primary investors in the Glen Carbon development is U.S. Rep Jerry Costello’s son. Once again, the taxpayer lining the pocket of politically connected hacks!


  3. - 3 beers to springfield - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 10:59 am:

    STAR bonds amendatory veto - AMEN! It’s amazing how great developers make a deal sound while saying they need the public’s money to make the “great deal” happen. If the public’s sharing the risk, the public should be sharing the reward.


  4. - Segatari - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 11:31 am:

    So the original bill eliminated the pay raises for good and Quinn amend vetoed it to do the same thing? HUH? What the heck did he actually change?


  5. - Bill - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 1:10 pm:

    What he did was give the GA a way to get their raises after voting against them. All they have to do is sit on the AV and its happy days.
    Thanks, Gov.!


  6. - Ghost - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 2:14 pm:

    I am on the opposite side on this. I support Quinn on this one. I have long thought the legislatures automatic increases was a horrible idea; but no legislature is going to get out in frint of this given it innures to their benefit. This AV is tied to the legislation and is probably the only way we are going to get this issue in front of the legislature.


  7. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 2:54 pm:

    Bill, I bet they vote not to take it again. Doubly virtuous. That’s the gift.


  8. - Anon - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 4:14 pm:

    Why is it that state legislators aren’t entitled to a COLA? Not every member of the GA is independently wealthy. And with all this ethics crap going on, when is the last time you saw a member of the rank and file go to jail? Why not a sliding scale for legislators? The more you make outside of the GA, the less your legislator pay should be. Then legislators who actually treat the job like the fulltime job it is aren’t penalized by the rich do gooders who use their legislative pay as play money. Especially since everybody thinks you should volunteer to be a one now.


  9. - No STAR - Sunday, Sep 20, 09 @ 12:23 am:

    As Capital Fax so accurately said - STAR Bond legislation is the “worst bill ever”. The Governor issued a AV and now the matter is in the hands of the General Assembly again. Let’s hope they read it and let’s hope they understand that giving 100% of the states sales tas for this development is non-sense. Good for the Gov to ship the matter back.


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