Rauner Willing To Back Chicago Casino, But Only With Grand Bargain On Budget

CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Bruce Rauner said he might sign legislation allowing for a casino in Chicago and some other places in Illinois, but only if it’s part of the overall “grand bargain” being negotiated to end the state’s two-year budget impasse.

The Illinois Senate – without Republican votes – has approved several pieces of budget legislation, including a gambling expansion plan that would allow a handful of casinos, including a city-owned gaming operation in Chicago.

Rauner was asked if he would sign such legislation.

“There is a grand bargain being negotiated. I believe new revenues through the casino are part of that grand bargain, and I’ve said I’m open to whatever package can move the needle to a balanced budget, and I’ve said I’m open to local control. So the answer is, if that came as part of a package, I could be supportive of that,” he said.

However, Democrats and Republicans have not been able to agree on every piece of the grand bargain, including the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda,” which he has said could grow the state’s economy.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Senate swept through votes on nine pieces of the grand bargain, sending seven of them to the House, largely with Democratic votes.

While Senate Democrats saw the votes as progress in budget negotiations, results were mixed in ending the two-year budget stalemate in Springfield.

Although the Senate approved a $36.5 billion budget plan, it failed to pass legislation giving the state the power to implement it, as well as billions of dollars in spending cuts.

The Senate did not vote on an income tax hike and needed to fund the spending plan.

Republicans had asked for more time to continue budget talks before Wednesday’s votes. Without their support, the Senate was unable to pass legislation imposing a two-year property tax freeze. Rauner has demanded a permanent property tax freeze as part of any budget that would raise the income tax.

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