* Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz filed the lawsuit which resulted in the capital bill’s demise yesterday at he hands of the appellate court. At least one union is now talking boycott…
Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz might face a backlash now that the lawsuit he filed has indirectly put tens of thousands of construction jobs in jeopardy. […]
The lawsuit that led to Wednesday’s ruling was filed by Wirtz, whose family owns the Chicago Blackhawks. The foundation of their financial fortune is Wirtz Beverage Illinois, a distributor of alcoholic beverages. Used to getting their way in Springfield, the Wirtz family was infuriated when the legislature ignored their objections to the liquor tax.
Chicago labor leaders were not happy about the construction jobs that will vanish if the capital projects don’t go through. Jim Sweeney, President of Local 150 International Union of Operating Engineers, said his members might boycott Wirtz family businesses including the Blackhawks.
First of all, there was nothing “indirect” about it. That lawsuit led directly to the current calamity. Also, secondary union boycotts are illegal, although this might not be viewed as such.
* Meanwhile, the Tribune triumphantly gloated…
Lawmakers are, of course, free to disassemble their Frankenbill and pass the measures separately, as they should have done in the first place. Good luck with that. In the year and a half since they pulled this stunt, we’ve had the sort of public airing we didn’t get in the beginning, and it’s clear Illinois residents don’t want those new bridges and buildings badly enough to welcome video poker to their neighborhoods.
More than 70 communities already have voted not to allow the machines. All four major candidates for mayor of Chicago want to leave the city’s ban on video gambling in place. We’ve elected some new lawmakers, and set old and new on notice: This doesn’t fly. Wednesday’s ruling should be the end of it.
* As I explained to subscribers this morning, it won’t be easy passing another funding bill. The Sun-Times has more on that…
If Wednesday’s decision is not overturned, Gov. Quinn will face an unexpectedly difficult and financially uncertain spring legislative session that many observers had expected to be relatively tame. Now, after passage of the politically unpopular income-tax hike, he could be faced with scaling back the construction plan or persuading re-enactment of the stricken tax and fee increases, borrowing and video poker that has been rejected by dozens of communities.
“For those who supported this most recent tax increase and then went home and heard from their constituents, what will your reaction be to another vote on fee and tax increases, which were part of the original capital proposal?” said Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine), who said it is not a certainty that Republicans in a new Legislature will agree to the same framework as before on a construction package. “We’re in a different time.”
The prospect of having to go back to the Legislature and win backing again for billions of dollars in construction borrowing is further complicated by Gov. Quinn’s push for a separate $8.75 billion borrowing package he had intended to seek this spring to whittle down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills.
“You’d like to think at a certain point we’d collectively achieve borrowing fatigue. I know I’m there personally,” Murphy said. “This is just a sticky wicket.”
* But not all Republicans are so pessimistic…
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said he was disappointed with the court’s ruling on a measure he called a “jobs bill.”
“When you now say that the funding in the legislation itself is unconstitutional, you put a choke hold on those jobs and the state and the economy,” Brady said. “This whole jobs bill … was directed to stimulate the economic engine of the state of Illinois and put people back to work in this high unemployment time.”
* Locals reacted in horror…
“Regardless of my feelings on what the Legislature did to fund the capital bill, what’s concerning is that we haven’t had one in such a long time. The infrastructure in our state is terrible. My immediate concern is that it’s addressed,” said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.
“My initial concern would be the impact that this ruling would have on all the capital projects that have been identified and planned and, most notably, with the Peoria Riverfront Museum,” said Peoria County Administrator Patrick Urich. “The state has identified $5 million for part of this project and I’m concerned what’s going to happen with that.” […]
District 150 Treasurer Dave Kinney said he hoped the ruling would not have any effect on the money expected to go to the school district.
If it does, though, “I would think that our first step would be to meet with the PBC and architects involved … and put a temporary halt to the projects until we can sort out what the priorities would be,” Kinney said. “We were anticipating bids to go out on both projects in April or May, so right now there isn’t an obligation to one project or the other from the standpoint of having hired contractors. Hopefully, since we have been on a (Capital Development Board) list for quite some time, there will be minimal impact. Obviously, we will need to find out as soon as possible what that link might be.”
* Except for video poker, most people have forgotten what was used to fund the capital program. The SJ-R has a handy list…
* Legalizing video poker in places like bars and social clubs, raising an estimated $375 million.
* Turning over day-to-day management of the lottery to a private firm and allowing the sale of lottery tickets online, $150 million.
* Increasing the tax on alcohol, $114 million.
* Extending the sales tax to previously exempt items such as candy, non-carbonated beverages, and health and beauty products, $150 million.
* Increasing vehicle fees, $331 million. Vehicle registration and driver’s license fees increased $20. Titles and commercial licenses went up by $30.
* And the Sun-Times has the list of what’s been borrowed and spent…
How much has already been borrowed: $2.2 billion
How much has already been collected: $425 million
* Daily Herald: Liquor tax hike, video gambling struck down
* Court puts massive construction program in limbo
* Court ruling derails Stevens Building plans - Ruling also imperils other capital funding
* Video gaming, tax hike ruling raises questions about Route 59 project
* A new round for racetrack site - Wirtz Beverage to build liquor distribution center at former Sportsman’s Park in Cicero
* Chicago wins court appeal
over O’Hare Airport expansion
* High court ducks battle between O’Hare, cemetery
* Attorney general sides with Quinn on appointments dispute
* Attorney General: Pay Quinn’s appointees