Quinn, Emanuel Continue War Of Words On Casino
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Updated 08/23/11 – 4:09 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – They profess their friendship for each other, but Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued to verbally spar on Tuesday over legislation that would clear the way for a massive expansion of gambling in Illinois, including a casino in Chicago.
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Quinn has suggested that Emanuel is in too big of a hurry for the gambling expansion bill. But Emanuel has said the city needs casino revenue to repair and maintain key infrastructure, because it isn’t getting enough funding from the state and federal governments.
However, Quinn said Chicago has received hundreds of millions of dollars for construction projects in the past year, due to the state’s capital construction program.
“Chicago has done very well with that law, building schools, fixing the railroads, making sure we have clean water, taking care of roads and highways and bridges,” Quinn said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
The mayor said the city’s needs are greater than that.
“There’s a capital shortfall in the infrastructure for the mass transit of $7 billion,” Emanuel said. “That doesn’t account roads, schools, sewers, water pipe.”
A spokesman for the Mayor told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine that he’s identified $2.3 billion in needed repairs to roads, bridges, water and sewer mains, and billions more for the CTA. Money from the state, the mayor claims, has all but dried up.
“It’s very simple. I think all of you saw the car that fell through not just a pothole,” Emanuel said Tuesday, referring to a sinkhole that opened up on the Northwest Side on Saturday. “It’s because the pipes, the water system in Chicago – in parts of Chicago – is a hundred years old.
“We’re not gonna have a situation where every community in Illinois that wants to fill its sinkholes or potholes wants a casino. Come on,” Quinn said.
The mayor argued that a Chicago casino is the only way to make up for a precipitous cut in infrastructure funding from the state.
“In 2003 it was a $135 million, now it’s down to $32 million for the entire city … that’s what we spend on infrastructure,” Emanuel said.
But Quinn disputed that the state hasn’t done enough to help the city pay for infrastructure repairs.
“The city should check its numbers,” Quinn said, pointing specifically to $300 million in state funding to rebuild the north-south leg of Wacker Drive. “Reviving the drive, who do you think’s paying for it? The state of Illinois is the big investor in that.”
Quinn claimed there would be more projects like it when Chicago gets $1 billion from the recently-passed capital bill. But that money will be spread out over five years and no one really knows when and if that money will be available.
Asked if that $1 billion was coming the city’s way, Emanuel said no.
“This is not an argument I’m having. I think the governor knows this. We’re committed, both of us, to – A: jobs and B: our infrastructure, which is key to the economic conditions for companies to expand,” Emanuel said.
CBS 2 News concluded that the state is giving the city more than the mayor says it is, probably double. But not nearly the $1 billion that Quinn claims.
And as the debate continues, the pressure will mount on Quinn to give Emanuel the casino he needs for infrastructure – money neither the state nor federal government can afford to provide.
The two are at odds over the casino bill because the governor claims it undermines regulatory safeguards.
Lawmakers have approved the gambling expansion plan, but have not sent it to Quinn for his consideration. Senate President John Cullerton has placed a legislative hold on the proposal, fearing Quinn would veto it.
Quinn has not yet said what he would do with the legislation when it reaches his desk, but lawmakers who voted for the bill have been weighing possible changes in hope of getting Quinn’s approval.