By Jayette Bolinski | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD – Danville’s top city leader said he was disappointed but not surprised by Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a major gambling-expansion bill Tuesday – an expansion that could funnel jobs and money into the border city’s economy.
But the veto isn’t going to stop Mayor Scott Eisenhauer and other officials from working the phones to get legislators on board with a veto override later this year.
“We’ll continue the fight. We start working the phones today, making sure that the senators and the representatives who have supported the casino expansion in the general session will continue to support it in the veto session,” Eisenhauer said Tuesday.
Quinn vetoed Senate Bill 1849, which would have allowed casinos to be built in Danville on the Illinois-Indiana border and Rockford in northern Illinois, as well as three new Chicago-area casinos. The legislation also would have authorized slot machines at horse-racing tracks.
Quinn repeatedly said he believed the bill lacked strong ethical and oversight measures for the casino operators – a “glaring deficiency” he reiterated in his veto message. Quinn additionally said the bill lacked a ban on campaign money from gaming licensees and casino managers, and it did not ensure clear regulatory oversight for the proposed Chicago casino by the Illinois Gaming Board.
He also said it did not provide gaming revenue for education.
“…Illinois cannot gamble its way out of our fiscal challenges. Even a casino on every street corner cannot repair the state’s $83 billion unfunded pension liability,” Quinn wrote. “I urge the members of the Illinois House and Senate to address the most pressing issue of our time – comprehensive public pension reform.”
A new casino would have created an estimated 600 permanent jobs, 350 construction jobs and countless service-industry jobs at restaurants and convenience stores, Eisenhauer said, adding that the attraction would be a draw not only for Illinoisans, but also for Indiana residents.
He said he believed the legislation took steps to add oversight measures that a prior gaming-expansion bill did not.
“We certainly share the same sentiment with the governor in that we want Illinois to continue to be a state of high ethical standards, especially as it relates to gaming legislation,” he said. “But my belief was that, at least as it related to the casino license that would be eligible for the city of Danville, that oversight existed.”
A veto override will require a three-fifths vote in both the House and the Senate.