* I expressed some doubt to subscribers yesterday that the iTunes tax was going anywhere, based on conversations I’d had with some high-level players and my own gut feeling that the tax on music and video downloads would make nervous legislators even more nervous because it would attract way too much attention. Quinn backed off today…
Gov. Pat Quinn is backing off a proposal to tax music and video downloads in an effort to plug the state’s massive budget hole, saying he still believes raising the income tax is the best way to generate money for the state.
Quinn floated the idea of taxing downloads from online services such as iTunes in a meeting with legislative leaders earlier this week, but the proposal received a cold reception in Springfield. Today, Quinn said that he was simply offering suggestions on ways to solve the state’s budget crisis and does not support the plan, which would have generated $5 million to $10 million a year.
“We had a meeting with the legislative leaders the other day, we made a list of all the possible things that could happen,” Quinn said. “I didn’t advocate that. I’m not interested in doing that, frankly.”
* We’ve known for some time that there was no way the Senate would approve this bill this year…
Regardless of their income, senior citizens can continue riding Chicago-area mass transit for free after the state Senate Wednesday preserved what a GOP critic called one of impeached, ex-Gov. Blagojevich’s “last and most impulsive acts.”
A Democratic-led Senate panel narrowly rejected a Republican push to prevent affluent seniors from skirting fares on buses and trains and tying the free-rides program to a retirees’ income.
* I wrote weeks ago that it was highly doubtful that McCormick Place would really try to take on the two gigantic contractors which control the big trade shows. Yep…
The trade unions have been pushing for audits of trade-show contractors to ensure they pass along labor cost savings to customers. The McPier board approved a softer version, recommending only that McPier have the right to review and verify contractor billing statements.
The contractors are hugely powerful and the insiders know it. They can very easily direct shows away from McCormick Place to the point where the buildings would be forever empty. And the unions are right that we ought to know how big their markups really are. But, the contractors have the biggest guns in the room by far, so they were coddled.
The board’s biggest decision was to eliminate Focus One…
(T)he board voted 4-3 to recommend eliminating Focus One, the in-house electrical service whose high prices have been a source of customer anger, and to allow trade shows to hire outside contractors.
Mind-boggling markups on electricity, electrical services, Internet, etc. had to go. Problem is, that’s how McPier pays its staff salaries. So, they want an annual operating subsidy and a debt restructuring…
To make the recommended package click, McPier is seeking a $20 million to $25 million annual operating subsidy from Springfield, in addition to a restructuring of its expansion debt.
I was told yesterday that the subsidy probably wouldn’t begin for about 18 months.
The rest of the board’s proposed reforms don’t look too bad, however…
# In terms of new work rules, the interim board recommends making union workers employees of McPier and reducing by half the number of crews required to set up a trade show.
# State and city marketing dollars allocated to the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau to attract trade shows should go directly to McPier, the board decided. […]
# Exhibitors will now be allowed to bring in food from outside restaurants and caterers.
Even the Tribune editorial board was laudatory…
These changes, at first blush, look like they would go a long way to answer the biggest criticisms of McCormick Place customers who have been threatening to take some of the nation’s biggest trade shows to other cities. The customers have been begging McCormick Place to make its operations affordable. They’re tired of getting fleeced.
* Truth in tuition
* Push to eliminate free rides for seniors fails in state Senate
* All seniors get to keep riding the train for free
* Two lawmakers fight for good government
* State wants every child to have savings account