Madigan talks state spending amid budget crisis

June 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The state's powerful speaker of the house talked to ABC7 about state spending and working with Republicans.

The Illinois house speaker, without question the state's most powerful politician, is reclaiming his credential as a Southwest Side conservative. ABC7 caught up with Speaker Madigan in his home district Monday morning.

In rainy southwest suburban Bridgeview, House Speaker Michael Madigan worked without an entourage. He arrived Monday as the local state rep to help other elected officials break ground for a $29 million underpass to ease traffic backups at the 71st Street railroad crossing.

"This is a real good example of where the different levels of American government can .work together," said Madigan.

Democrat Madigan won his chamber's latest budget showdown with his same-party governor and state senate president. They tried to attach a spending measure on the bill that reauthorizes already-paid-for public works projects.

Democratic party chairman Madigan was joined by House Republicans in bipartisan resistance.

"The message is real simple: Don't spend money that you don't have. Live within your means," Madigan said.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who addressed the Rainbow PUSH convention, says he will look during the fall session for money to avoid cuts to early childhood education programs.

"We have to find ways to give our educational system the support and investment it needs in order to make sure we don't have young men and women going to prison," said Quinn.

"If there's unexpected revenue that comes in to the state, that money should be used to pay outstanding bills, not for new spending," said Madigan.

Despite the state's money needs, Madigan recused himself from voting on the gaming expansion bill that passed the House and Senate last month. It still has to be signed by the governor.

"I want to hear from all sides," Quinn said. "I think it's important that everybody have a voice."

While he took no official position on the bill, when asked, Madigan spoke to the issue as a citizen.

"I think that you oughta minimize gambling," said Madigan. "I think that's what the government oughta do, the government ought to minimize gambling. As a citizen, I've never been enthusiastic about gambling. I had some experience as a young boy that taught me that you ought not to get involved in gambling and I've lived under that my entire adult life."

Madigan put aside his personal disdain for gambling to allow the House vote on the gaming expansion bill that passed the chamber. But what he said Monday is an ominous sign for gaming expansion supporters. When you don't have Michael Madigan on your side, you usually cannot get it done in Illinois.

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