So, we officially have Pat Quinn as our governor. It didn't take long for him to drink the Kool Aid. See, one of the reasons I like three-way races is because they keep people from claiming a mandate just because they got more than 50% of the vote. Well, leave it to Quinn to prove me wrong. Winning with only 46.6% of the vote and by only about 20,000 votes, he is telling reporters that voters want him to raise the state income tax to balance the budget -- "I think that is a really strong mandate that I got." Gee, it's a lot easier to get a mandate nowadays than before, isn't it?
So, what's on the Illinois agenda to fix our budget?
* Expanding gambling in Illinois. Whether or not you like gambling is actually beside the point. Last year, video gambling was legalized, putting another 45,000 terminals around the state. How did that work out? Not only has gambling revenue declined nationwide last year, but here in Illinois, revenues from 2009 are the lowest they've been since 2001. Despite this, Sen. Terry Link (D - Waukegan) is introducing a 338 page bill that will expanding gambling even more in Illinois, including a casino for Chicago.
* Still nothing on the public pension bomb that is steadily reaching critical mass. There is talk of converting future income from at 1998 settlement with tobacco companies to help stave this off. Of course, if you can find someone willing to do it. Remember, Illinois has the lowest credit rating of all 50 states. All talk is about how much money they can get from "securitization" of the payout, not the high interest rates that Illinois taxpayers will be on the hook for to sell new bonds.
* The Ricketts family wants $300mil in bonds to renovate Wrigley Field, to be paid for with increased tourist taxes. Nevermind that tourism is already down and McCormick Place, the largest convention center in the country, is seeing lots of unused days while the unions eat up money. Cubs crap sells no matter how bad the team is, and they aren't willing to put up the coin themselves. We are still paying for the White Sox new stadium. We paid for renovations to Soldier Field to benefit a private enterprise, the Chicago Bears (which resulted in the rare feat of the government revoking Soldier Field's national landmark status). Now, here we go again. Although, to be fair, I have been to Wrigley Field. The first time I went there, I had to go to the bathroom. I walked into the men's room, with the trough, and said, "Screw it, I'll hold it," and by God, I did. If it means decent bathroom, then it might be a bargain.
Something tells me the January session isn't going to be that much different. Although I'm curious how everyone is going to vote.