The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 2, 2013

Another miss in Springfield


Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Leadership within the Illinois General Assembly, along with Gov. Pat Quinn, again proved their own political priorities rank higher than effective state government.

The spring session of the Legislature closed Friday with a solution to the state’s most pressing problem — its pension shortfall estimated at more than $90 billion.

The inability of the Legislature to figure out how to resolve problems it created by not funding state pensions as its members agreed to do looms over every other issue.

One plan passed the House. A different plan passed the Senate. Neither accepted the other and Quinn sat on the sidelines figuratively wringing his hands. And now it will have to wait until the fall.

Another issue of particular local interest that failed to pass the General Assembly was an expansion of gambling. Danville is among five communities set to gain a casino if the plan ever passes.

In a state where the unemployment rate remains higher than the national rate, the Legislature had a chance to boost the economy — and it struck out again.

Quinn’s surrogate, the head of the state’s gaming board, waited until late in the session to add a wrinkle to the expansion plan that sank the proposal before the deadline. Apparently, Quinn and the mayor of Chicago can’t call each other to resolve their differences about a casino there, so they decided no one Officials say a casino would mean 300 construction jobs; 600-800 permanent jobs; and about $6 million in annual revenue in Danville. Multiple that times five and imagine what the state has to gain from the expansion. More revenue would come in from sales tax, liquor tax, hotel/motel and food and beverage taxes.

The Illinois General Assembly appears to be one of the most dysfunctional entities in government, yet its leaders continue to be re-elected. That’s a reality that’s difficult to understand.