SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State lawmakers in Springfield offered a compromise to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot over a casino in Chicago. But she'll have to wait a while longer to see if they'll give it the green light.
Senate President John Cullerton announced changes to the Chicago casino law that would get the city and the state about $200 million in revenue. But he can’t do it now, as Lightfoot had hoped.
At Lightfoot’s request, Springfield tweaked the tax structure of the Chicago casino, but the measure will not pass during the veto session.
“This is a Senate bill so we’re not going to be able to pass this week but it’s important, I think, that we advance a bill,” Cullerton said.
Lightfoot is counting on revenue from a Chicago casino to help close the city’s budget deficit. And Springfield needs the money to fund a massive construction plan.
“We’ve got to open a Chicago. Our vertical capital bill will be in destitute in my mind," said Sen. Terry Link.
A consultant’s study found that combined city and state taxes would be so high that the Chicago casino would likely not attract a developer.
Tuesday, the mayor visited Springfield to ask Democrats for a fix. But in the end, there was not enough time to sort out issues in the veto session.
The location of the Chicago casino remains a big concern for Hazel Crest Representative Will Davis. He’s worried a South or West Side location will pull business away from a south suburban casino.
“We passed that bill in May and here we are in veto session and she’s seeking changes,” he said. “She should have been having these conversations all along. … I mean they didn’t even study any of the downtown areas where many of us think that that would be the best bang for the buck.”
Republicans were also skeptical. Right now, they’re mostly focused on ethics.
“Is this insanity or what we’re in the middle of multiple federal investigations and they’re talking about gaming legislation?” Rep. David McSweeney said. “I’m voting against it all. I want to see what the FBI is going to determine. “
The Chicago Tribune reports the FBI, as part of its investigation into ComEd’s lobbying, recorded phone calls of one of House Speaker Mike Madigan’s closest confidants, Michael McClain.
Democrats said they’re paying attention to the widening probe.
“We’ve read articles. We know there’s a serious investigation going on. We’ll see how all this develops,” Rep. Greg Harris said.