* 11:20 am - House Speaker Michael Madigan has left the leaders meeting in Chicago. The meeting had been requested by House GOP Leader Tom Cross.
Madigan may be gone, but the other leaders, including the governor, are still in Cross’ office as I write this (minus Frank Watson, who is being represented by Sen. Christine Radogno). Madigan told reporters on his way out that there needs to be public hearings on any gaming expansion plan.
The Speaker has claimed that he supports a capital bill, but has so far refused to come on board any gaming expansion beyond more positions at current casinos. The Senate has passed legislation that would fund the capital bill with three new casinos and lots more positions at the current boats. Rep. Cross has said he could support a Chicago casino.
* 11:51 am - The governor just told reporters that there is now a consensus among all leaders except Speaker Madigan on capital and gaming.
* 12:52 pm - Some of the private spin coming out of the confab was that it was a “good” meeting and that Madigan was not as obstructive as some thought he would be. Still, Madigan expressed doubt that his caucus would go for such a big gaming expansion and has concerns about the capital bill as written.
* 1:28 pm - From GateHouse…
“I don’t think that the people of Illinois have had an adequate opportunity to learn what’s in this bill,” Madigan told reporters who waited outside the meeting at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.
Madigan did not offer firm dates for the hearings, which would be held in Chicago and Springfield.
There are a lot of little things in that bill that could be dredged up in a hearing and put in the worst possible light.
* 1:46 pm - CBS2’s report…
Madigan told reporters he is skeptical of the new plan, saying it would make Chicago a major gambling area, second only to Las Vegas.
* 2:20 pm - From a press release…
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna today called on Governor Rod Blagojevich to oppose County Board President Todd Stroger’s plan to raise the Cook County sales tax. As a candidate himself, Blagojevich repeatedly indicated his opposition to higher taxes on working people, but now remains curiously quiet about a key ally’s proposal to drastically increase taxes on the working men and women of Cook County.
“Governor Blagojevich has spent years in Springfield grandstanding against higher sales and income taxes while secretly raising fees and other taxes,” said McKenna. “If Rod Blagojevich is to have any credibility on this issue he needs to tell his friend and ally Todd Stroger that Cook County families simply cannot afford this type of tax increase just to fund their lavish government spending.”
* 3:30 pm - This is exactly why I took a couple of days off. I had no confidence at all that the veto session will last just two weeks, and now I’m even more convinced. From the Tribune…
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown, however, made it clear that the speaker is in no rush to convene the gambling hearings, which have yet to be scheduled. He said the sessions in Chicago and Springfield would be held sometime “in the coming weeks,” but he said there is no guarantee they will take place before Oct. 12, the end of the fall veto session. Transit agencies have set Nov. 4 as the date service cuts would be implemented, limiting people’s ability to get around.
In fact, Brown said, lawmakers shouldn’t expect the veto session to signal the end of the record-setting overtime session, which has been going on for four months and which Madigan seems to be willing to extend indefinitely.
“This has gone on an interminable length of time, so I don’t know why anybody would suddenly think the veto session would mark the end,” Brown said.
The House already is scheduled to meet through the end of October. “That could be extended if necessary,” Brown said.