Two weeks of nothing in our messed up state
RICH MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org November 11, 2011 7:58AM
Updated: December 13, 2011 8:49AM
The second and final week of the annual state legislative veto session was a disappointing dud.
Just about nothing came together, except that one tiny part of the massive state budget problem was solved.
Sort of. And only for a year.
Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed $11 million for regional school superintendents’ salaries. The temporary one-year solution involved taking money from a corporate tax fund tapped by local governments. Chicago and suburban Cook County governments get half that fund’s money, so they contributed to half the solution, though Chicago and suburban Cook don’t have a regional superintendent.
Consider it an early Christmas present for Downstate and the collar counties.
The favor wasn’t returned when it came time to give Chicago a new casino, even though Lake County, the south suburbs and two Downstate towns would get in on the action. Quinn hated the bill the General Assembly passed in May, so the bill’s sponsors increased government oversight and significantly pared back the expansion.
Quinn didn’t much care for that bill, either, mainly because it still allowed slot machines at racetracks. Last May’s version of the gaming bill received 65 House votes, which was six votes shy of overriding Quinn’s veto. When the new version was called on Wednesday, it received just 58 votes. That’s not even a majority.
Quinn’s people were pleased the gaming bill went down. It was a victory, though there’s no real evidence that the governor was responsible for the bill’s defeat.
The governor may not have killed that gaming bill, but he most certainly kept it from getting more votes than it did last May. He “won” by staying away from the TV cameras.
During the first week of the veto session, a perpetually angry governor raged at lawmakers. All that did was make people mad.
His antics actually helped ComEd override his veto of their “smart grid” bill. By zipping his lip this week, Quinn didn’t create a harmful legislative backlash, so he “won.” Except all that tax money and all those jobs went right out the window.
By now you may be thinking, “Man, Rich, we live in a messed up state.”
Yeah, well, I have to admit, we kinda do live in a messed up state. Just ask Terry Duffy, CME Group’s executive chairman.
Duffy has been complaining about his company’s state tax burden since January. His company pays more income taxes than any other Illinois corporation, though it’s far from the largest.
Duffy has a valid point that CME is overtaxed. Most of its transactions take place out of state, so those transactions shouldn’t be taxed by Illinois.
And though Duffy started threatening to move somewhere else way back in January, nobody bothered to really talk to him about solving his problem until Senate President John Cullerton stepped in last month. By then, Duffy had been inundated with lucrative relocation offers.
But the proposed solution, a $100 million tax reduction, shocked many legislators. The shock deepened when others began demanding even more tax breaks in return for supporting Duffy’s agenda. At last count, the “Great Illinois Tax Cut Bonanza of 2011” would cost the state budget somewhere around $700 million a year in just three years.
So, of course, that deal fell apart as well. The General Assembly will return for a rare post-Thanksgiving session to work some more. Nobody knows what Duffy will do next.
But, hey, the Legislature did pass a bill to let Chicago install speed-enforcement cameras. Maybe Chicago can give Duffy a ticket as he races out of town.