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Gambling on the Future

By Kevin Robinson in News on May 29, 2007 1:50PM

Now that Blago's $7.6 billion tax plan has crashed and burned in the state legislature, he's doing a total 180, embracing expanded gambling in Illinois to try and cope with a state budget that is in serious trouble. The legislation, backed by Emil Jones, would expanding gambling in Illinois to include three riverboat licenses for Waukegan, the south suburbs and an as-yet undetermined point within an eight-mile radius of O'Hare Airport. As part of the deal, Chicago would get a casino as well. (Reports that Daley actually had an orgasm when he heard that remain unconfirmed.) Blago told the press Friday "The idea of more gaming is not something that I like... but I'm prepared to accept it if it means every citizen in our state can get access to affordable, quality, comprehensive health care." You may remember that in 2004 Blagojevich put the kibosh on a Chicago casino, saying that it wasn't part of his vision for the state (although selling the lottery and statewide Keno apparantly are).

Of course no budget deal in Illinois would be complete with out a side of pork. But don't worry, it's in there. 2% of revenues generated would go to Emil Jones's favorite local charity, Chicago State University, giving the institution a potential $40 million windfall, doubling it's take from the state. And since nothing is as it seems here in this state, of course CSU has been accused of misappropriating funds. Adding to Blago's woes is Mike Madigan's opinion that revenues generated from this deal should go for more construction in the state, leaving the governor's dream of health care financing underfunded. And of course the Illinois congressional delegation is hammering Blago on better funding for mass transit in the state, with $6.1 billion in federal funding in jepordy unless the state can come up with $1 billion in matching funds.

With the budget deadline looming this week, and Machiavellian actors waiting in the wings with knifes drawn, the governor has his hands full. We're sure that Patrick Fitzgerald's recent subpoena isn't easing the heartburn from Blago's Memorial Day burger yesterday.