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Floppin' into Favor

It's a Pat Quinn "flip-flop" that even Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan loved:  the governor's office says he has decided to sign the $29 billion capital bill approved by the General Assembly last spring.


Quinn had vowed for months never to sign the capital bill without an operating budget that included an income tax increase to help resolve the state's $9 billion deficit.   The deadline for the 2009/10 spending plan passed on July 1st with the Governor and GA locked in the mother of all stalemates.


(FYI:  The capital budget pays for construction projects, i.e. roads, bridges, schools, etc.; the operating budget pays for the day-to-day conduct of government and grants to social service providers.)


The Governor's change of heart on the capital bill, which promises hundreds of thousands of public works jobs, was announced fewer than 48 hours after Attorney General Lisa Madigan (the Speaker's daughter) told reporters she would not challenge Quinn in February’s 2010 democratic primary.  Union bosses in the construction trade, longtime allies of Lisa's daddy, had been waiting in the wings with money and troops to support her candidacy.  Naturally, as soon as Lisa said she was staying put as AG, the incumbent made his move on the recession-weary, job-hungry unions. 


It’s a flip-flop that could pay huge dividends for Quinn in next year's primary if he is anointed organized labor's candidate of choice. Additionally, the turnabout may have won Quinn a few more votes in the GA if a tax increase measure comes up in the near future—after pleasing both republican and democratic members of the House and Senate who had demanded for weeks that the governor not tie his signature on the capital bill to the passage of a tax increase.


Oh, and one more thing to remember about the capital bill:  its construction projects would be financed in large part by fees and taxes on 45,000 video poker machines to be licensed in thousands of Illinois bars and restaurants. One anti-gambling group estimated it would take 60 full-sized riverboat casinos to accommodate that many slot machines.

Good luck.



Or maybe we will see the slot machines in public bathrooms.


Unfortunately, Governor Quinn extracted no concrete promises from the GOP regarding a tax increase. Cross and Radogno just pocketed the capital bill projects without conceding anything in return.

Now, Quinn must hope that new-building ribbon cuttings will outweigh social services program cuttings in the eyes of the public.

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