Quinn: Governor is ‘supreme executive’

June 1, 2011

(Flickr/Ben McLeod)
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn criticized a gambling bill Wednesday, but would not say whether he would veto it.

Gov. Pat Quinn hinted Wednesday he will change the “top heavy” gambling bill that landed on his desk, but he remained coy about how he might use his veto pen.

Legislation that would create a new casino for Chicago and four other towns, and establish slot machines at racetracks and Chicago airports, got an unfriendly welcome from Quinn, who said from the beginning the bill was too big. The legislature sent him the measure during the final hours of the spring session, which ended at midnight Tuesday.

“I think any person with common sense looking at that bill would say it’s excessive,” Quinn said during a news conference in his Capitol office. “Illinois is not for gamblers. It’s for the people.”

During a wide-ranging meeting with reporters, Quinn said repeatedly he “was beholden to the people,” not lobbyists, legislative leaders or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wants the gambling bill.

“The people of Illinois come first, and if they are harmed, I won’t approve it,” he said, adding that the governor is “the supreme executive authority” in the state.

Quinn could tweak the bill to downsize its scope, but those changes might endanger support among legislators who would need to approve his changes. Emanuel’s lobbyists, along with dozens of gambling interests, worked carefully to string-together the bill, which won only the bare minimum of votes in the Senate.

Quinn said he doesn’t like the gambling bill, but he praised workers compensation changes that supporters say will reduce the cost of doing business in Illinois. Quinn also said he will sign education reform bill making it easier to dismiss bad teachers.

He vowed to veto legislation allowing two of the state’s leading energy providers, ComEd and St. Louis-based Ameren, to raise consumer electric rates. Quinn described their supporters as men “in three-piece suits and fancy shoes.”

Quinn said he wanted more money in the budget lawmakers sent over devoted to elementary and secondary education and that cuts to schools were too drastic. Whether he can steer more money toward education with his amendatory veto pen remains to be seen. He cannot dramatically increase spending, per the Illinois Constitution.  

Lawmakers are not scheduled to return to Springfield until November.