Quinn: Not so fast on Emanuel's casino money plans

August 16, 2011 3:15:04 PM PDT
An Illinois gambling expansion has yet to be legalized, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel already has plans for that revenue.

On Tuesday, Governor Pat Quinn warned the mayor that the plan for more Illinois casinos is still undecided and the mayor cannot count on that money yet. Quinn on Tuesday made it clear he did not appreciate Emanuel's push for passage. The mayor says he is just planning ahead for the day the bill becomes law.

The bill would allow five new casinos including one in Chicago.

It has not yet been built or signed into law, and even so, Emanuel already has a plan on how spend revenue from a Chicago casino.

"It will create the plan we've laid out somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs, rebuilding 25 news schools, 40 miles of roads," said Emanuel.

Emanuel's list of benefits goes on. Emanuel says all the money from a Chicago casino will not be used to pay for past bills - it will used to rebuild Chicago's infrastructure.

"To compete against Shanghai, to compete against Paris, to compete against Hong Kong, to compete against L.A., Chicago has to rebuild infrastructure, put its people to work," said Emanuel.

One big problem with the Emanuel plan: the gambling package passed in Springfield last May has not even been sent to the governor for action. Senate Democrats put a hold on it, knowing that governor Quinn would not sign it in its current form.

"The notion that we're spending the money before the law passed I think is putting the cart before the horse," said Quinn.

Quinn made it clear he is not about give in to pressure from Emanuel to sign the bill soon. Quinn says the current piece of legislation has too many shortcomings when it comes to honesty and integrity.

"I don't think any person with common sense looking at the legislation today would say that it has sufficient protections for the public," said Quinn.

The mayor says he is planning ahead because the funds from the federal government and the state are drying up.

"It's not a threat to anybody - it's an opportunity for the city to build itself and be competitive," said Emanuel.

Before talking about the use of the money, Quinn suggests that Emanuel speak with Illinois Gaming Board officials about the gambling bill's shortcomings.

Board Chairman Judge Aaron Jaffe says he would be happy to express his concerns about the bill if asked by the mayor or his staff.

Senate President John Cullerton met with Quinn last week about the bill, but, nothing specific came out of that meeting.