CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday called Gov. Pat Quinn’s position on expanded casino gambling in Illinois “a starting point for negotiations.”
As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, the governor responded with comments that seemed to say “which part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?”
On Monday, Quinn said he supported bringing five new casinos to Illinois, including one in Chicago, but he opposed allowing slot machines at racetracks, Chicago’s airports and the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The governor seemed pretty clear in his opposition to slots at the racetracks and sponsors of the gambling expansion plan have said the deal would fall apart without them.
But Quinn also backed video gambling to fund his capital construction bill two years ago and now has changed his tune, demanding that Illinois communities vote to opt in to allow video gambling, rather than vote to opt out.
Both the Emanuel and Quinn have put brave faces on Monday’s phone call from the governor, informing the mayor that he couldn’t support the current gaming expansion bill, which includes a casino for Chicago.
“Never say ‘My way or the highway.’ That’s not how I do my things. He’s laid out what he would like to see. The legislature will now lay out what they think,” Emanuel said. “And I think you’ll see some great overlap and, therefore, we’ve gotta find common ground.”
But if, by common ground, he meant compromise, “My way or the highway” seemed to be exactly what the governor was saying.
On Monday, Quinn said he would veto the gambling bill in its current form and said that unless lawmakers follow the principles of his alternative – five new casinos but no slots at tracks – he won’t approve expanded gambling.
“That’s what I said yesterday and I’ll say it again today, I just said it,” Quinn said Tuesday. “I think it’s important to not have saturation of gambling casinos all over Illinois.”
The mayor had just toured the Chicago offices of financial services giant Ernst and Young, which today pledged to create 500 new jobs here.
“It’s hard to find a community, I think, that has a business community, a civic community and a government that come together in the spirit of making Chicago better. We have that here,” said Ernst & Young Vice President Tony Anderson.
The announcement was music to the mayor’s ears, just like Tuesday’s announcement that bond rating agencies were keeping the city’s bond rating unchanged, calling its financial outlook stable.
New revenue from a Chicago casino would make the city’s financial picture look even better, but the mayor’s not counting on it.
Asked if the fact he didn’t put casino revenue in his 2012 budget plan indicates he thought getting a Chicago casino would be a long, hard fight, Emanuel said, “you would not have gotten the vote, or the analysis by the three rating agencies if I bet it on a promise. I bet it on hard decisions.”
Casino revenue, the mayor has said, would be used to accelerate infrastructure improvement and create new jobs and economic development in Chicago. But he’s not betting on getting it anytime soon.