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Read the Lightfoot tea leaves

Friday, May 24, 2019

* Tribune

Snagging a Chicago casino, getting help with city pensions and landing an infrastructure bill are at the top of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s list of priorities as Illinois lawmakers head into the legislature’s final week.

The city’s new mayor said a casino was “a big priority” for her in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly’s closing days and that she’s had productive conversations about it. She said her team also is working on other issues and discussing her administration’s priorities with lawmakers.

“We are making sure that we’ve got our wish list down there,” Lightfoot said Thursday after an unrelated news conference. “So we’re firing on a lot of different cylinders to make sure that the city of Chicago gets its fair share of resources from Springfield.” […]

She told the Tribune that she’s aware of the timing of when Chicago needs to have her first spending plan in place and when Illinois voters might be asked to overhaul the state’s tax code — a proposition that has been touted as a tax hike for the wealthy.

“There is a finite number of people who are high net worth, and the vast majority of them in the state live in the city of Chicago. So, we have every interest in making sure that solving Chicago’s fiscal issues are aligned with the state and vice versa,” Lightfoot said last week. “We’re going to go first. That’s just the nature of the timing. If we clobber people with outsized taxes, it’s going to make making the case for the fair tax that much more challenging. We are all in. We support the governor’s program, but it’s important that we are looking at this issue holistically and Chicago’s fiscal circumstances have to be part of the calculus as well, and I think they get that.”

My read: Help the city with its priorities now or it sure would be a shame if something happened to that tax plan you’ve got on the ballot next year.

Your turn.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments
  1. - West Sider - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:01 am:

    Lightfoot might do OK.


  2. - Ok - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:10 am:

    Tax fatigue is real (one of the issues with the number of taxes proposed in the capital bill).

    It has a strong, but notably short, shelf life.


  3. - OneMan - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:11 am:

    You got to be fair to me, otherwise people may not think fair is fair.


  4. - A guy - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:16 am:

    ==If we clobber people with outsized taxes, it’s going to make making the case for the fair tax that much more challenging.==

    Now there’s a statement of understanding worth remembering.


  5. - Ok - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:16 am:

    For example, and a little activity:

    Please list any of the most recent tax or fee increases proposed by your local government.

    You might give a general “my property taxes went up.” But when would you have not said that?

    Next, you might think of a bag fee because you started bringing your own bags to the grocery store.

    But that is where the tax awareness typically ends at the local level.


  6. - cannon649 - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:17 am:

    Haedball in the first week.

    A casino for tax bill support.

    JB are you listening?


  7. - wordslinger - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:18 am:

    –If we clobber people with outsized taxes, it’s going to make making the case for the fair tax that much more challenging.–

    There’s some truth to that, but I’m not sure that Lightfoot and the City Council can or want to clobber people with outsize taxes, regardless of what happens in Springfield.

    The dynamic between the new mayor and the council, with its mix of veterans and many new faces, is unclear.

    When it comes to odd timing, a new mayor taking over with less than two weeks left in the session is about as awkward as it gets. Things might be more clear in the fall.


  8. - JS Mill - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    Is there an area in the city that would lend itself to a casino or casino’s that could also benefit the area residents with medium to high wage jobs? Preferably near the lake?

    I am not a gambler, but why not allow for something similar to Las Vegas style casino/hotel/resort. It would be a travel destination and bring in big money for Illinois.

    I understand this could impact other Illinois casino’s but would it really? If it was focused on the high dollar gambler?


  9. - Resist the Easternblock - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:38 am:

    I would argue the Indiana Casinos would be hurt more than the other Illinois Casinos, but what do I know.


  10. - A Jack - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:40 am:

    The thing is that infrastructure projects take time to plan and implement. In November 2020, voters will be paying much more for registration and fuel while driving to their polling place on likely the same old potholed street. And you will be asking these voters to trust you on a “fair tax.”


  11. - Chicagonk - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:47 am:

    Maybe lawmakers will stand up to Neil Bluhm this session as well?


  12. - lake county democrat - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 9:49 am:

    I’ve been warning about the Dems tax fatigue problem for years. I’m more convinced than ever that JB made a big mistake by going too low with the top tax rate in his plan: if he wasn’t going to cut anything then he needed more revenue for funding pensions, Chicago, and other projects.


  13. - James - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:04 am:

    =Is there an area in the city that would lend itself to a casino or casino’s that could also benefit the area residents with medium to high wage jobs? Preferably near the lake?=

    West Madison Street, west of the United Center which is 1800 W., so, say anywhere west of Western Avenue (2400W) to Pulaski Road (4000W). Development spurred by the United Center and Medical Center has come as far as Western, but not west of Western where there are many vacant lots, burned out since Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 and never rebuilt. Some of these could be assembled for a casino and one or two multi-story parking structures. The casino would spur additional West Side development, which is on the Mayor’s to-do list. 2800 W. Madison, for example, would be 3 miles due west of the Loop on a major bus route.


  14. - 62656 - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    Perhaps instead of proposing new excise taxes or increasing the nominal amount, they should just pass a rule that would automatically adjust excise taxes to inflation & leave excise taxes otherwise as is.


  15. - Charlie Brown - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:11 am:

    A Chicago Casino is not happening.

    And even if it did, it would not produce any revenue in time to prevent a property tax hike.

    Lightfoot is making a promise that she cannot possibly deliver, and a threat that is gonna come to fruition with or without her.

    “There is a finite number of people who are high net worth.” - MLL

    Well, atleast we know who she is focused on.

    News flash: there is a finite number of almost everything. But the number of millionaires in Chicago has been steadily growing. And since the income tax is based on income, and not “net worth,” it’s not clear she really knows what she is talking about. Or maybe she is trying to misdirect?

    This is the Mayor endorsed by progressive leader Scott Waguespack, right?


  16. - wordslinger - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:11 am:

    –I understand this could impact other Illinois casino’s but would it really? If it was focused on the high dollar gambler?–

    Whales contribute a relatively small part of the gambling handle. Slots are the cash cows, accounting for more than half of all revenue.

    Casino revenues in Illinois have stagnated due to slots at taverns, truckstops, VFW halls, etc.

    That said, the Chicago area already is the third biggest casino market in the U.S., behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

    No doubt that a bright, new, shiny Chicago casino would do well, likely to the detriment of older casinos in the region.

    Here’s an excellent, comprehensive report on casino gambling across the country.

    https://www.americangaming.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/AGA-2018-State-of-the-States-Report_FINAL.pdf


  17. - AndyIllini - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:11 am:

    =I would argue the Indiana Casinos would be hurt more than the other Illinois Casinos, but what do I know. =

    To me it shouldn’t be the State Legislature’s job to guess at who it may help or hurt. Building a casino should be a local zoning issue.


  18. - JS Mill - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    @Word- thank you for the info.


  19. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:24 am:

    Prime location: James R. Thompson Center.


  20. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    I’m a little skeptical of the strategy here by Mayor Lightfoot. The key to the casino is controlling all the other interests that come out of the woodwork whenever the casino bill pops up. Is Governor Pritzker supposed to do that for Mayor Lightfoot now? Plus, she is not going to win political points for opposing the graduates income tax. It would probably hurt her if she opposed it in any way. So, she is making a bit of an ideal threat here.

    The City needs more revenue. Springfield cannot solve that problem. Mayor Lightfoot should get it over with now but pass progressive revenue solutions.


  21. - wordslinger - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:43 am:

    –I’ve been warning about the Dems tax fatigue problem for years.–

    How do election results factor into your theory about this “problem?”


  22. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 10:43 am:

    Also, CTU is going to test Mayor Lightfoot’s progressive credentials over the coming months. They have never been strong enough to decide an election, but they have so much control over the progressive community that they can hurt a mayor if they want. CTU’s opposition, plus a couple scandals (which always pop up), and a tax hike, and basically Mayor Lightfoot is in Emanuel’s position wondering if she can survive reelection.


  23. - Chicagonk - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    Rivers Casino makes a ton of money. I know someone that is a minority owner in it and the casino is a cash cow. A casino in Chicago would generate significant revenue and a good portion of that revenue would be from out-of-state visitors. Put it near McCormick. It’s such a no-brainer that the longer this goes on, you start to wonder who’s interests are really being represented at the state level.


  24. - Fav Human - Friday, May 24, 19 @ 12:23 pm:

    She put a shot across the Alderman’s bow to start the week, to end it she puts one across the Governor’s bow.

    If she can come to a modus vivendi with Madigan, she might be the second coming of Daley I


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