Filan explains why he wants to lease out the state lottery.
The governor’s idea to lease the Illinois lottery didn’t generate much enthusiasm from state lawmakers last year, but the state’s chief operating officer pushed the idea anew Tuesday, arguing that Illinois must relieve itself of the risk posed by the lottery.
“I think revenue is at risk,” said the state’s new chief operating officer, John Filan, during an appearance before the Union League Club of Chicago. “I’m concerned lottery revenues will go down, not up, over time. I want to pass that risk on to the private market.”
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has suggested that a long-term lease of the lottery could generate new money for schools, but lawmakers are skeptical.
“I think they’re grasping at straws to come up with some plausible explanation as to why they want to sell a state asset, use the money now and not worry about it down the road,” said Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) who said he has requested hearings on the lottery proposal when lawmakers return to Springfield early next month.
Rep. Brent Hassert (R-Romeoville) questioned why private companies would give a “whole boatload of money for the lottery” if they’re looking at the same risky market.
Filan and the administration claim that current state law ties the state’s hands in expanding the lottery’s revenues. For instance, they’re limited on how much money they can spend on advertising and they can’t pay incentive sales bonuses to vendors or sales people.
The governor’s proposal, as far as we’ve seen, assumes that the General Assembly will remove those restrictions from a private company. I wouldn’t bet on that. As Rep. John Fritchey has noted, the plan also seeks to reduce the number of payouts, another not so popular idea.
Speaking of betting, Rep. Lou Lang unveiled yet another gaming plan yesterday.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has agreed not to interfere with a new gambling-expansion bill if it advances in the legislature this spring, the measure’s sponsor said Tuesday.
Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat who previously pushed for additional Illinois casinos, said Blagojevich recently told him he would decide the merits of Lang’s latest proposal if and when it reaches his desk.
Blagojevich, a Chicago Democrat, in the past has publicly discouraged lawmakers from even sending him such legislation, by threatening a veto.
“The governor assured me that he was not going to say or do anything that would get in the way of my attempting to move this legislation,” Lang, chairman of the House Gaming Committee, said at a Chicago news conference. “That is what he told me, and that is what I expect will happen.”
Wanna take odds on the governor keeping his word?
*** UPDATE *** Mayor Daley’s response, via Chicago Public Radio.