Thursday, June 2, 2011

Will Quinn approve despised measures?

I suspect we’re going to get to see a lot of the official gubernatorial clothespin this summer.
QUINN: Holding his nose all summer?

By that, I mean that Gov. Pat Quinn is going to wind up applying his signature of approval to many measures he will wish he could reject. He'll need something to hold his nose shut while he signs various bills into law.

AT LEAST THAT is the impression I got from reviewing Quinn’s comments on Wednesday – the day after the Illinois General Assembly completed its business for the spring session.

Our legislators are now on their way back home, not to return until the veto session come fall. And no, I don’t expect they’re going to be undoing many measures that Quinn rejected this summer.

The simple fact is that Quinn is going to have to ‘suck it up,’ so to speak, and approve many bills approved by the Legislature – even though they go against his wishes.

Primary among these is the measure that would give Chicago the full-blown casino that certain city officials have desired for decades, and that even Mayor (for all of two weeks) Rahm Emanuel has given some serious plugs to.

QUINN DOESN’T HAVE objections to putting a casino in Chicago. He’s willing to let that happen. What he hates is the way the General Assembly went about approving an urban casino – they tacked on a lot of gambling-related goodies for the rest of the state.

Will this soon be the Mighty Quinn?
Quinn thinks that makes the bill too top-heavy, and he wishes he could veto it.

Yet if Quinn had the nerve to do that, he’d be putting at risk some serious revenues that both Illinois state and Chicago city governments are hoping for in order to help dig them out of their financial messes.

There’s also the fact that the only reason some legislators voted for the Chicago casino bill was BECAUSE OF the other stuff – such as the casinos in Rockford  and Danville, along with near Waukegan and some site in the south suburbs (Country Club Hills, anyone?).

QUINN WOULD MAKE a lot of enemies if he were to publicly reject a Chicago casino because he didn’t want anyone else (besides the downstate cities that already have riverboat casinos) to have gambling amenities in their communities.

Quinn on Wednesday called the gambling measure “excessive” and “top-heavy.” But I’d bet money on the fact that at some point within 60 days, he’s going to call it “the law!” He’ll give it his approval.

He’ll try to justify the urban benefits and go out of his way to ignore the other provisions – which will manage to offend those locals who only want to talk about such benefits (slot machines at the airport and at racetracks, including the Illinois State Fairgrounds racetrack in Springfield).

I expect Quinn also will wind up having to approve the state government budget for fiscal year 2012 (which begins July 1), even though it calls for up to $2billion in additional cuts beyond what Quinn proposed.

AND THOSE CUTS are in the areas of education and public safety programs.

In short, it acknowledges the fact that real people will wind up suffering, and that people who talk solely of cutting budgets in order to balance government finances these days are purely politically partisan in nature.

Quinn does have the “amendatory veto” power that allows him to make some changes. As in he can take money away from programs. He doesn’t have the power to add it.

Which means that if this $2 billion cut is too much for Quinn, he’d have to consider an outright veto. Which would mean calling the General Assembly back to Springfield for an emergency session so as to approve a budget.

BUT NOW THAT the Legislature’s May 31 deadline has passed, we’re now in that time period where a larger-than-usual majority (60 percent) is needed. Which means Democratic Party politicos can no longer ram acts of policy through on their own.

If Quinn lets this fall into the hands of Republican officials, he risks becoming “Mudd” in the eyes of his alleged political allies. He’s probably going to have to take this hit too.

Another hit he’ll have to take involves the boundaries prepared and approved by the General Assembly for the state Legislature and the Illinois congressional delegation. He says his staff is thoroughly reviewing every district to see how fair they are.

That’s to give him cover for when he does apply his “Pat Quinn” signature to the legislation.

DEMOCRATS ONLY DOMINATE the process if they approve new maps for the upcoming decade on their own. If Quinn “vetoes,” then we wind up having to revert to the process of past decades – where a bi-partisan commission deadlocks and a random name gets drawn from an Abraham Lincoln-owned hat or glass bowl.

It would be the ultimate in political stupidity if Republicans gained control of the process through that lottery BECAUSE Quinn applied a veto. It means, he won’t do it.

In fact, I’m wondering if the biggest “veto” Quinn will dish out this summer will be his rejection of a bill allowing Commonwealth Edison and Ameren to raise their rates for utility infrastructure improvements.

The governor will draw the wrath of the utility companies for doing this. But he’ll get away with it, because I don’t know of a single soul who sympathizes with Com Ed.


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