At a City Club of Chicago address this morning, Gov. Pat Quinn said lawmakers shouldn't let the razzle-dazzle of slot machines distract them from their true mission of overhauling pensions.
"For those legislators who are enamored with the shiny object (of) expanding gaming in illinois, that has to wait until we get the important priority of pension reform done," Quinn warned.
"If we don't buckle down and focus on pension reform we will truly regret it," Quinn said. "We really need to keep everybody's attention on public pension reform in these next 11 days. There can be no real advance on gaming and all that, unless we do pension reform."
Included in his remarks, Quinn again pushed for a Senate bill in committee today that would limit the size of high capacity magazine clips to no more than 10 rounds. Quinn referenced his meeting with parents who lost children in the Newtown school massacre. They stayed at the governor's mansion last night and are to appear in Springfield today.
Quinn said the shooter in that tragedy walked into Sandy Hook Elementary with 30 rounds per magazine and got off 154 shots in about four minutes. Some children were salvaged only because he had to stop and reload.
"Because of that 11 children in Newtown were able to escape the rampage," Quinn said. Quinn asked how many more children would have survived if the high-capacity magazines weren't available to him.
Quinn also said he would keep an open mind on a medical marijuana bill that's on his desk.
Quinn has made similar threats concerning casinos in the past, in reference to a casino expansion bill that would add five casinos in Illinois, slot machines in airports as well as in racetracks. A key part of the gaming expansion bill is a casino in Chicago, which would grant the city enormous, unprecedented power. Critics have said the language in the bill still doesn't grant proper authority to the Illinois Gaming Board, instead granting it to a Chicago board whose members would be appointed by Rahm Emanuel.
The governor's office, however, has previously vowed to clarify any language to give the gaming board the upper hand.
"We cannot allow in any way if there is a casino in Chicago, that to take place without watchdogs that protect the public interest," Quinn said. "There can be no loopholes for mobsters."
Quinn pointed out that he's already vetoed two bills.
Again on pensions, Quinn said: "We'll be working that issue this week and every day until we get it done," Quinn said.
"I'm optimistic that we will do what we have to do to get this done by the end of the month because this is the most important thing, pension reform, for our economy in Illinois," Quinn said. "There's nothing more the government can do to help jobs and economy and growth than for the legislature to put a comprehensive pension reform bill on my desk at the end of this month."