Chicago Sun-Times
Staff reports on all things politics - from City Hall to Springfield to Washington, D.C.

Gov. Quinn's message to lawmakers: If you want casino bill, give me pension reform

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Likely seeing his political future linked to the state's pension debacle, Gov. Quinn is using lawmakers' keen interest in expanding gaming in Illinois as leverage to accomplish his top goal: pension reform.

Quinn's office is sending a clear signal that if lawmakers really want gambling expansion -- a bill that already sailed through the Illinois Senate that's filled with goodies for members statewide -- he had better find a pension reform bill on his desk.

(Read the Sun-Times analysis of an unprecedented City-owned casino here

"He's not going to approve a gaming expansion until lawmakers send him a comprehensive pension reform bill," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times last week.

Quinn twice vetoed casino expansion legislation after saying it lacked oversight and needed ethical strengthening, including a ban on campaign contributions from those doing business with the casino.

The proposed bill would create the first City-owned casino in the country, placing it in Chicago. It would bring four other casinos to the state as well as slot machines in racetracks and in Chicago's two airports.

When Quinn vetoed a past Senate bill calling for gambling expansion he noted: "Illinois cannot gamble its way out of our fiscal challenges. Even a casino on every street corner cannot repair the State's $83 billion unfunded pension liability."

Read Quinn's past veto letters: Here and Here

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