SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday called the massive gaming expansion bill passed by the General Assembly “excessive,” but repeatedly refused to say if he will sign it, change it or veto it altogether.


SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday called the massive gaming expansion bill passed by the General Assembly “excessive,” but repeatedly refused to say if he will sign it, change it or veto it altogether.

During a news conference in his Capitol office, Quinn also criticized lawmakers for approving a budget that cuts education and said he will veto a bill giving Commonwealth Edison and Ameren regular rate increases to pay for infrastructure improvements.

Quinn said he will give the gaming expansion bill a “microscopic” review before deciding what to do with it.

“I have told legislators over and over again, the people of Illinois do not want an excessive gambling bill that was top heavy,” Quinn said.  “I think I reflect the public sentiment on that.”

And Quinn said “excessive” defines the gaming bill approved by lawmakers Tuesday.

“I think any person with common sense looking at that bill would say it’s excessive,” Quinn said.  “Illinois is not for the gamblers, it’s for the people.”

Senate Bill 744 authorizes five new casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago, allows the state’s already existing casinos to expand their operations and authorizes slot machines at horse racing tracks, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and at airports in Chicago.

Quinn could choose to sign the bill into law, veto it entirely, or make changes to it using his amendatory veto powers. Over and over again, though, the Democratic governor dodged questions about what exactly he plans to do.

Quinn said a casino for Chicago is acceptable “if it is properly done,” but he again described the idea of five casinos as excessive. Quinn could use his amendatory veto powers to remove one or more of the casinos while leaving the Chicago one intact.

He also cast a pall on the idea of bringing slot machines to the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

“I think that’s a family place.  I don’t think that’s real good,” Quinn said.

It’s not clear when Quinn will be getting the gaming bill for his review. After the bill narrowly passed the Senate, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, quietly filed a motion to reconsider the vote.  The Senate adjourned without taking up the motion.

The motion has the effect of preventing the gambling bill from being formally sent to Quinn so that he can act on it.  Normally, the General Assembly has 30 days to send bills they approved to the governor who then has 60 days to act on them.

Cullerton’s office refused to comment about the motion Wednesday.

Quinn again declared that he will veto a bill giving automatic rate increases to Commonwealth Edison and Ameren to reimburse them for infrastructure improvements.

“We’re not going to let that bill go through, I guarantee you that,” he said. “When Commonwealth Edison and Ameren show up and pass something that is gouging consumers and harming businesses that employee people, if the legislative members let that go through, my job is to say `no.’ “

Both utilities said rate increases that would result from the bill are small and can still be rejected by the Illinois Commerce Commission.  They said they needed a more streamlined process to recover costs than what is in place now with an 11-month ICC review.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Citizens Utility Board and AARP all opposed the bill as being anti-consumer.

A Quinn veto could spell the death of the legislation.  Although it passed the General Assembly, the bill wasn’t approved by veto-proof majorities.

 

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527.