Lawmakers reject Quinn's veto of convention bill

May 27, 2010 4:32:53 PM PDT
The governor's budget plan to borrow $3.5 billion is facing tough opposition in Springfield. Lawmakers rejected the governor's veto of legislation that will reform business at McCormick Place.

After months of talk about tax increases, spending cuts and borrowing, none of it happened. The Illinois $13 billion budget deficit remains in place. The house adjourned its 2010 regular session at about 1:30 Thursday afternoon. The senate continued working into the evening. The General Assembly did accomplish one thing Thursday-- it reformed McCormick Place by overriding Governor Pat Quinn's veto.

It took only minutes for each chamber to reject the governor's changes in the McCormick Place bill. Republicans accused Democrat Pat Quinn of playing election-year politics with thousands of tourism-related jobs.

"The governor has put 66,000 jobs at risk. The business community is very concerned as are the people who are working at McPier," said State Sen. Bill Brady, (R) nominee for governor.

Despite warnings from trade shows threatening to leave McCormick Place, the governor tried to change the reform bill's language and restore his power to appoint the McPier boss. Instead, lawmakers reaffirmed their decision that Jim Reilly -- House Speaker Michael Madigan's ally --should lead the revamped convention center.

"I think it sends a clear message that there is strong bipartisan awareness of the problem and strong bipartisan support for this solution," said Reilly.

Soon after the governor's McPier veto Wednesday, support for his plan to borrow $4 billion to pay the deficit-ridden state's pension obligation began unraveling.

"There are some members who have some issues about borrowing, which many of us have," said State Sen. Donne Trotter, (D) Chicago.

The borrowing bill that needed a three-fifths majority passed the house but lost the support of key senate Democrats.

"I am very concerned about the state borrowing another $3.8 billion when we don't have a budget plan in place," said State Sen. Susan Garrett, (D) Lake County.

Without borrowing, the plan is to delay the pension payment until later in the year, and in the meantime use the money earmarked for it to pay bills.

"If we do not pay these bills, 200,000 private sector jobs will be lost, and our unemployment rate will go up 6 percentage points," said State Sen. Dan Kotowski, (D) Park Ridge.

"We all recognize this is an extremely difficult budget situation, and the governor is going to be called upon to exercise a lot of discretion in terms of how he spends the money," said State Rep. Michael Madigan, (D) house speaker.

Speaker Madigan and the senate president can call their chambers back in regular session any time between now and Monday. That is extremely unlikely to happen. They also could call the chambers back any time this summer in special session, but they won't do that unless they have the votes, the three-fifths majority to pass the borrowing bill.

In the meantime, Illinois remains $13 billion in the red.


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