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Long summer ahead?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

* The final budget deal is a mess. There is no deal. It’s not even near final. They aren’t even close.

“I think the lines in the sand have been drawn so deep, it’s been very difficult to come to some type of agreement,” said State Rep. Marlow Colvin, D-Chicago.

* And stuff like this, tucked into the gaming bill, just makes it more difficult to get anything done…

Nearly two dozen female and minority investors in the failed Emerald Casino could get bailed out of their multimillion-dollar, bad investment under a massive gambling expansion backed by Gov. Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones.

Tucked within the 218-page gambling bill is a controversial provision that could allow the clout-heavy group to recoup $32.8 million lost on the Emerald deal and have an ownership stake in one of four new casinos proposed for Chicago and the suburbs.

Lawmakers from both parties and a top government watchdog condemned the plan, questioning why taxpayers should be expected to swallow the losses of the politically influential group or to wade anywhere near the legal morass involving Emerald.

* As I told subscribers this morning, there are a whole lot of other problems with this gaming bill. Here are just a couple more, but the list is long, including, but not limited to, the $40 million annual Chicago State subsidy…

But the fine print of the current plan is raising both eyebrows and opposition at the Capitol.

As proposed, the state would legalize and license bookies to take horse racing bets over the phone or Internet. Horse tracks would be able to create electronic poker networks that could allow people to gamble online from their homes.

* The fact that the governor’s former chief of staff is lobbying for the tracks is not helping the bill’s credibility much…

As talk of gambling has surfaced in recent days as a way to help plug holes in the state’s budget, Monk signed on May 22 to represent the Racing Associations of Illinois, which is based at Balmoral Park Racetrack in Crete, according to state records. Horse-racing interests want legalized slot machines at the tracks as part of any gambling deal.

* The rancor has put the legislative leaders on a dangerous collision course, and yesterday’s meeting between Gov. Blagojevich and the entire House Democratic caucus didn’t move the ball forward at all

Gov. Blagojevich went before House Democrats for more than two hours Monday to try to broker a budget deal but left with some members predicting an agreement is more remote than ever.

The governor appealed to House Democrats to back him on a budget or risk letting Republicans dictate terms of a deal if the General Assembly spills into overtime Thursday. But lawmakers said the governor seemed unwilling to compromise.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think it looks very good for an adjournment date for this Thursday unless he’s playing a great game of chicken,” said Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago), chairman of the Illinois House Legislative Black Caucus.

* The basic disagreement is over the scope of the governor’s proposals…

Several Democrats emerged from the meeting saying there remains a huge gap between what the governor wants to spend and what House members think is a realistic spending increase. Blagojevich remained adamant that he wants lawmakers to approve his universal health-care plan, even though lawmakers have made it clear they won’t approve the tax hikes needed to pay for it.

* More on that topic

Many lawmakers consider the plan too big, especially after other recent expansions of health care programs. It would cost at least two billion dollars a year and cover people making up to four times the federal poverty level.

Senator William Delgado compares the ambitious plan to trying to eat a large pizza all at once — “It’s not going to happen.”

* Afterwards, the governor attempted to blame the House Democrats and Speaker Madigan for the impasse, which just threw fuel on the fire…

The Democratic governor emerged from the meeting and lashed out at House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago and his Democratic members, suggesting that it will be their fault if an agreement cannot be worked out before the General Assembly’s scheduled May 31 adjournment deadline.

* More tax and spend and end-of-session stories, compiled by Paul…

* Democrats skeptical of Governor’s call

* Illinoize: Gov: it’s your turn, House Dems

* Illinois would OK more casinos to fund health plan

* Governor battling lawmakers’ lack of enthusiasm for health care

* Seven steps to a state budget

* Highlights of governor’s health care plan

* Sweeney: Governor’s health plan pushed in casinos

* Morrissey to back push for Rockford casino

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - bored now - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:05 am:

    LEADERSHIP. this doesn’t mean talking to people you like, or who think like you do. it means talking to people you may not like, who do not necessarily think like you, because of the power and/or influence they have.

    just thought i’d mention that…

  2. - Enough is Enough! - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:08 am:

    Game over, start the impeachment proceedings.

  3. - High Roller - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:20 am:

    “The governor appealed to House Democrats to back him on a budget or risk letting Republicans dictate terms of a deal if the General Assembly spills into overtime Thursday.”

    Cross is no hothead, he can work with Mike to craft something that at least resembles a responsible budget. What I am hoping for is that Watson can remain statesmanlike once the super-majority rule kicks in, because Emil “kilowatt” Jones is all over the map these days with irresponsible actions. Blago himself will be able to take political cover and blame the legislature when the final budget comes out and does not match his lofty proposals. His next gut check then will be, does he veto the plan they give him, hold them hostage all thru June and into July, hoping by such a friendly gesture that they’ll reciprocate by acceding to his will? Will they have enough cohesion to override him? He’s probably praying they will, because that gets him off the hook PR wise.

  4. - Shock the Monkey - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:22 am:

    Monk’s back, eh? Well, you know what they say about returning to the scene of the crime.

  5. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:26 am:

    Why is this happening?
    It is because Illinois did not benefit from the Bush economic boom and it looks like it is peaking this year. This would be twice that our state did not boom along with the US during the past economic cycles.

    This is a big deal. Illinois needs to be a boom state, and had been one for most of it’s history. We have also seen that what capital had been built up over the century is being spent on short term spending. Illinois is eating it’s seed corn, and has been for 20 years.

    Even as Illinois keeps from “losing”, it loses by not growing. Our state continues to loose political representation, citizens hungry for a family future are leaving for greener pastures available in the South and West, and this leaves behind needy citizens demanding even more nanny state programs to survive. Illinois is in a free-fall.

    Our politicians know this. However, they haven’t any idea how to address our problems without alienating their political supporters. So each looks to the other to bite the bullet and be the “bad guy”.

    Blagojevich doesn’t want to lead Illinois towards fiscal responsibility - he wants to pander.
    Madigan and Jones are too old to do much more than pad their own political nests. The Illinois Democratic Party doesn’t know how to fix our fiscal problems without robbing citizens.

    It is rather simple, but challenging - we must either grow out of our malaise, (Jimmy Carter’s legacy word), or cut back on our spending. It would be better to grow out of this mess, but that is a long term solution in a short-term political world. The other option - cutbacks, won’t get anyone re-elected in Illinois. As Chicago evolves from a can-do industrial giant, to a whiney finger-pointing government services giant, the rest of Illinois is dragged down too.

    I don’t mind the sincere legislator too ignorant or hamstrung to fix our fiscal problems. But I do have problems with legislators who see our situation and use their political clout to shovel more into their pockets at our expense. Their unethical actions confirm our worst fears; our state’s problems cannot be addressed, so they are taking care of themselves first. This happens whenever major catastrophes hit governments, whether it is in Port-au-Prince, Detroit, St. Louis or Chicago.

  6. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:27 am:

    I can’t believe even I screwed that up!

  7. - Cassandra - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:39 am:

    Perhaps we middle class Illinois taxpayers should have been demanding a tax cut instead of merely begging our legislators to just let us keep our current tax burden. After all, Emil is apparently attending to the needs of the Emerald investors in the gambling proposal. Aren’t we as good as they are? We want our share of Illinois’ tax goodies and we certainly need need it more than, say, Emerald investors Sandra Degnan and Chaz Ebert.

    If our legislators are able to put together a last minute multibillion dollar tax package, based on gaming, and “loophole” cutting, how difficult would a tax cut be. It would definitely be welcomed by the middle class taxpayers who actually feel the tax load in this state and who will get precious little from the largesse provided by the latest post-GRT proposals.

    There are some caveats, of course, although crafty Emil and the feckless Blago sail blithely on. What corporate loopholes will be filled, exactly? One person’s loophole is another person’s sage tax policy. And do we really want our state government’s fiscal health to rely even more on the health of the gambling industy. There must be a limit to people’s appetite for handing over their money to the casinos. And if nearly all the money garnered from this last minute tax raid goes into the state’s general fund won’t that provide our legislators and guv with an overwhelming temptation to raise the corruption tax and cut billions more out of the budget for contributor and political pals, via contracts and patronage. The more vague the planned uses for the tax, the better for Illinois’ rapacious pols and their cronies. Health and education and transportation will merely get the remains. And when this budget session ends, we have to start fighting the battle against the tax swap and assorted individual income tax schemes all over again.

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:40 am:

    It’s noteworthy that Willie Delgado — who championed universal heath care while in the House, is crapping all over the Governor’s All Covered proposal.

    Talk about a reality check.

  9. - leigh - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 9:43 am:

    Bring in Cross. The best hope for a decent and responsible budget is one devised by Cross and Madigan. The other yahoo’s have proven their ineptitude. I cannot support universal health care for illegals while our streets and schools need help.

  10. - Truthful James - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 10:00 am:

    Good old Emerald City. Is Emil really the Wiz?

    Any bill which gives fat cats back their dough is insane. They gambled and lost.

    That is money which offsets the revenue available from the new licensing fee. I can hardly wait for that auction. The State has still not got it right.

    I guess it is only the taxpayer and the players which pay.

  11. - i d - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 10:54 am:

    When I heard that the only source of more money would come from casinos, I could only laugh. How did this state ever pass any budget prior to legalizing gambling? We learned early on that only the legislators and their “friends” make large amounts of money from gambling. When are we going to vote out these old villians? We could really use some young candidates and young voters to take on the old bulls and drive them from the herd.

  12. - Leroy - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:44 am:

    “Nearly two dozen female and minority investors in the failed Emerald Casino could get bailed out of their multimillion-dollar, bad investment under a massive gambling expansion backed by Gov. Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones.”

    Only in Illinois could the lawmakers turn a casino - a virtual license to print money - into a bad investment.

  13. - Truthful James - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 11:56 am:

    Will somebody please tell me why “minority and female investors” make a damn bit of difference?

    We are not talking about the truly needy in the Cabrini/Taylor/Lathrop homes. These are fat political cats with different plumage.

    Leroy — The state did not make this a bad investment…they did it to themselves. They thought it was a sure thing — probably were told that as the sponsors tried to bring in anough people with enough clout as to make Emerald a stone impossible to cut.

  14. - Crimefighter - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 1:27 pm:

    Anyone who voted Democrat last November got EXACTLY what they deserve.

  15. - Wake Up Already! - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 1:41 pm:

    SO? Does this mean there would be a bill giving back all the State of Illinois employees who got screwed out of their jobs by the Rod and Emil their jobs back with retroactive pay too?
    But this tolerated? Tucked within the 218-page gambling bill is a controversial provision that could allow the clout-heavy group to recoup $32.8 million lost on the Emerald deal - backed by Gov. Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones.

  16. - Dark Forces at work - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 3:09 pm:

    Illinois, U.S.A. = Corruption Headquarters Central

    There wouldn’t be a budget problem if Rod wasn’t giving our money away!

  17. - Where's the Outrage? - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 3:23 pm:

    Illinois is getting swindled by Blagojevich and Jones.
    The so-called budget crisis is of their own doing.
    Prison or Impeachment?

  18. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 3:56 pm:

    I want to move. Seriously. This state is in the ol’ outhouse and it’s about to get tipped over. Our officials lack leadership, and it’s apparent that no one really knows what’s really going on.

  19. - Papa Legba - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 5:46 pm:

    Oooooo! Rod chose a new boogie man. First big corporations now its Madigan and the house.

    Who’s next?

  20. - Disgusted - Tuesday, May 29, 07 @ 6:13 pm:

    Buying people off is now a way of life in Illinois. How else would Milarod and Emil get anyone to talk to them. A couple of charmers they are NOT. They are inept bullies trying to line their own pockets and those of their family members and to hell with the rest of us. What a bunch of crooks. It’s good to be a crook however, and know where all the bodies are buried.
    Cowards and crooks - what a legislature.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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