Veto session starts with gambling standoff
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he will follow the advice of Gov. Pat Quinn.
He’ll ask his Senate colleagues to vote on a scaled-down casino bill that does not include slot machines at horse-racing tracks. Cullerton will call it for a vote, knowing it most likely won’t pass.
State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), who opposes any casino expansion in Illinois, offered a polite description of the standoff between Cullerton and Quinn.
"I think there’s always give and take in the legislative process. What is driving this is a desire to maintain momentum, rightly or wrongly, from whatever bill had passed earlier," he said.
But momentum may be dwindling. Cullerton hopes if Quinn’s version of the gambling bill fails to get enough support, the governor will come back to the negotiating table. Without slot machines at horseracing tracks, Cullerton and the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, say they can't get the bill out of their chamber. Slots at tracks are needed to keep downstate lawmakers on board, they say.
The horseracing industry supports family farms that grow hay, veterinarians and breeders for the horses in the suburbs and central Illinois. But Quinn has been standing firm against allowing slots at tracks, telling reporters he’s ready for lawmakers to “bring it on.”
Kristen McQueary covers state government for WBEZ and the Chicago News Cooperative.