Quinn angry about new Illinois gambling bill

May 24, 2012 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.)

The governor expressed his anger with lawmakers in an exclusive interview with ABC 7 political reporter Charles Thomas.

During the past several weeks, Quinn has repeatedly asked Illinois lawmakers not to consider a gaming expansion bill until after they have resolved the issues of pension and Medicaid reform. Lawmakers from Quinn's own party not only brought up the gaming expansion issue, they brought up a version of a gaming bill that the governor says will enable corrupt politicians.

"My job is to make sure there is no corruption in Illinois government, and we're not going to allow gambling to corrupt our politics," Quinn said Thursday.

The governor was blindsided when the Illinois House voted 69-47 to license five new casinos -- including one in the city of Chicago -- and to permit slot machines at horse racing tracks.

The bill's supporters say a super-majority of lawmakers now realize how badly the near bankrupt state needs the money expanded gaming would generate.

"We have a fiscal crisis in Illinois. There is no other piece of legislation that actually brings money in," said State Rep. Lou Lang, (D) Skokie.

But the governor told ABC 7 that the measure passed Wednesday is virtually the same bill passed last year that he threatened to veto.

"It has ethical loopholes you can drive a truck through, and that is not acceptable," said Quinn.

The senate is expected to vote on the gaming bill next week, and the sponsor there also predicts a veto-proof majority.

"We need a new revenue source, and we also need these jobs that this will create," said State Sen. Terry Link, (D) Lincolnshire.

The governor says lawmakers should focus on the billions of dollars to be saved with pension and Medicaid reform.

"These are epic reforms that must be done," Quinn said. "Everything else is small potatoes compared to that."

House Speaker Michael Madigan called the gaming bill to the house floor despite the governor's objections.

Lang and Link insisted the move did not signal disrespect for the Democratic governor from within his own party.

"The governor is not the supreme commander of the State of Illinois," said Lang. "The governor is the governor. He runs one branch of the government."

"The governor also has to respect the General Assembly," Link said, "and I think we know how to run the General Assembly."

"My job is to be respected by the people of Illinois," said Quinn. "We have almost 13 million folks who live in our state, they are good and true, I want their respect."

The governor repeated his vow Thursday to veto the gaming expansion bill in its current form if it is passed by the senate.

Both Lang and Link say they have the votes in each of their chambers to override a Quinn veto.

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