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Emanuel’s Legislative Agenda Not A Sure Thing In Springfield

Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel is learning a lesson in power politics from the Illinois General Assembly – that he cannot always get what he wants. Not everything, anyway.

Prospects for a Chicago casino appear dim for a Chicago casino and it’s still unclear whether lawmakers will agree to provide tax breaks for the LaSalle Street exchanges to prevent them from leaving Illinois.

But the mayor did get lawmakers to approve the speed cameras he’s been pushing for near city schools and parks.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that the mayor hasn’t been letting on whether he’s nervous about his legislative priorities.

Maybe Emanuel has reason to be nervous, maybe not, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said expecting a clean sweep for his legislative agenda probably raised the bar way too high.

Asked at an unrelated school event if he’s been on the phone with lawmakers in Springfield on Wednesday, Emanuel said, “No, I’ve been focused on education.”

As for his push for a Chicago casino, Emanuel said, “I have not heard anything new. They’re obviously busy at work … I was at City Council, as you know, and then here announcing what we’re going to be doing on education for our children.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Illinois House joined the Illinois Senate in passing Emanuel’s proposal for speed cameras in school zones. But there are no guarantees the governor will sign it. A spokesperson said the governor will review the bill when it hits his desk.

Emanuel’s other legislative initiatives weren’t faring as well.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said, “I think he’s an effective mayor and I think that, you know, he’ll probably have many victories as we go forward, even if they don’t occur this week.”

Emanuel walked away from reporters when asked if it would be a defeat for him, personally, if his other legislative priorities don’t pass.

But Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) said, “sometimes you may not get a victory today, but you get another day.”

Prospects for a Chicago casino seemed to dim with Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe saying the revised casino expansion plan still had too much gambling and too little oversight, with not enough time to analyze the legislation.

“It is a pile of junk, there’s no question about it. I said the other one was, you know, was junk and you can’t make perfume out of garbage,” Jaffe said. “It’ll take me several weeks to analyze it. It’s 400 pages.”

Jaffe said it’s “totally irresponsible” that lawmakers are trying to push the revised gambling plan through in a matter of a few days.

State Rep. William Cunningham (D-Chicago) said, “I think there’s an attitude here in the General Assembly that we want to get these things done, but they’re large, complicated problems that we’re probably not going to be able to solve in three days.”

The House began debating the revised gaming bill early Wednesday evening and it fell two votes short when it was called for a vote, but the sponsor pulled the proposal back at the last second, as not all House members were on the floor. Even if it comes up for a vote again, it would need a lot more votes to pass with a veto-proof majority, as Gov. Pat Quinn has made it clear he’d veto the bill.

Quinn has said he’d veto any gaming legislation that would allow for slot machines at racetracks and the revised plan leaves those in.

Tax breaks to keep the LaSalle Street exchanges in Illinois appeared possible, but might not be addressed until an additional veto session after Thanksgiving.