Chicago casino tax break passed by General Assembly

Chicago News USA

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A possible Chicago casino will receive a tax break requested by Mayor Lightfoot after the General Assembly passed a bill late Saturday.

The Illinois House also passed a $40 billion state budget late Saturday that relies heavily on federal funding.

The Chicago Tribune reported the spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1 now heads to the Senate. The budget passed on a largely party-line vote of 68-44.

The coronavirus pandemic that prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker to issue a statewide stay-at-home order left businesses across the state closed. Between that and the 1 million Illinois residents out of work by the pandemic, lawmakers say the state will have just under $37 billion in revenue. As a result, lawmakers looked to Washington to fill the hole in the budget.

Also Saturday, the House and Senate passed legislation pushed by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to change the tax structure for a casino in the city.

The legislation would also extend from two to six years the amount of time casino owners would have to make a reconciliation payment. The Tribune reported that the legislation also delays by a year, until July 1, 2021, the time by which gaming applicants must pay license fees.

The measure moved to the Senate, where it was passed 42-14. Gov. Pritzker said he looks forward to signing it.

Officials said the casino will bring in revenue to help with infrastructure and underfunded police and firefighter pensions.

Mayor Lightfoot released the following statement after it was passed.

“With critical votes this evening, the Illinois state legislature has passed a bill that makes the possibility of a financially viable Chicago casino a reality.  This moment is decades in the making, and represents a critical step toward shoring up our city’s pension obligations, as well as driving huge levels of infrastructure funding and fueling thousands of new jobs for all of Illinois. We are grateful to many lawmakers in both chambers, especially Illinois House Representatives Bob Rita, Jay Hoffman and Kelly Cassidy and State Senators Bill Cunningham and Kim Lightford, in addition to the leadership in both houses – Speaker Madigan, President Harmon, Leaders Durkin and Brady in particular – who were instrumental in the passage of this important legislation.  Additional thanks are due to our partners in organized labor, particularly the Chicago Federation of Labor, and its President, Bob Reiter. Thank you to members of the Chicago City Council.  And thank you to our fellow mayors, the restaurant and hospitality industries, and of course to the Governor for his dogged and public support of the bill, and we look forward to him signing this bill into law in the near future.”

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