State House Adjourns Without Considering Mayor Lightfoot’s Chicago Casino Proposal

Chicago News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The Illinois state House of Representatives adjourned on Thursday without considering Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s call for a Chicago casino.

Thursday marked the end of the House’s fall veto session. Lightfoot had visited Springfield on Tuesday and again made the case that the city needs a casino to fill its budget hole.

The mayor was calling for revisions in state legislation allowing for a Chicago casino, after a study earlier this year found the current plan isn’t viable because of a “very onerous” tax rate that could scare off potential private operators. Lightfoot has proposed either combined state-city ownership of a Chicago casino, or a lower tax rate for a privately-owned casino in the city, to make the plan more viable.

In a statement Thursday night, Lightfoot’s office said that while the state House’s failure to take up the issue was disappointing, “the Chicago casino is still very much in the sightline thanks to the progress we’ve made with our state partners.

“While this delay does not impact the City’s FY 2020 budget, this fiscal challenge looms large for FY 2021 and thereafter,” the Mayor’s office statement said. “Thus, the heightened sense of urgency remains. A substantial percentage of the state’s vertical capital bill depends on the revenue from a Chicago casino.”

The mayor went on to say the latest proposal for a Chicago casino has come closer than ever to coming to fruition, after 30 years of casino gambling in Chicago just being talked about.

Lightfoot said in a statement that the casino would bring“much-needed relief for our police and fire pension funds, while unlocking significant economic opportunity for our communities and capital funding for our entire state.”

State lawmakers on Thursday also did not address Lightfoot’s proposal for a revenue-raising real estate transfer tax.

The transfer tax was needed to fill a $50 million hole in her budget for next year. But the mayor says she has a backup plan, albeit vague.

“Our focus has been on trying to avoid a property tax increase if that’s necessary, so we put an alternative in, depending on what happens on here, but it’s a series of cuts,” Lightfoot said in Springfield earlier this week.

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