Kadner: Gov. Quinn’s casino veto a big hit in Indiana
Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-6787 August 30, 2012 8:58PM
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:49PM
The people of Indiana thank Gov. Pat Quinn for vetoing a bill that would have expanded casino gambling in Illinois.
Hoosiers want him to know that his concerns about ethics, education and mob influence are well founded.
As the governor is aware, a study by an economics professor at Ball State University concluded that 70 percent of gamblers at Northwest Indiana casinos come from another state, nearly all of them from Illinois.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels apparently doesn’t care at all about mob influence, education or ethics. It’s all about money, money, money with him.
He brags about the booming business growth right across the state line from Illinois. Daniels boasts that he has reduced property tax bills while those of Illinois residents and businesses skyrocket.
And the Indiana governor is telling everyone that while Illinois is facing massive debt and economic catastrophe, his state’s economy is simply wonderful.
I don’t know about mob influence in Indiana, but there are some who suspect that Daniels is in league with the devil.
That university professor I mentioned has said that Indiana’s gambling tax revenue could decline by $50 million a year if Quinn opened a casino across the border in Illinois.
The fact that Quinn would say, “we don’t need that sort of filthy revenue source to support programs here,” is an act of political courage unheard of in Indiana.
I imagine there are people in Ford Heights who would like to see the village get $4 million a year in casino tax revenue that Hammond stands to lose if Illinois opened a casino across the border — not to mention the $1.5 million loss that East Chicago would experience and the $1 million in tax income that would not go into Gary’s coffers.
That’s $6.5 million potentially for some impoverished Southland community, but Quinn has the guts to shout, “Take the moral high ground!”
Money is the root of all evil. Quinn obviously knows that.
Judging from the lack of financial resources in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln must be very, very good.
Quinn must have heard how Indiana’s gambling czar mocked Illinois’ political incompetence.
“One of the advantages of (competing against) Illinois is they, historically, seem to do everything wrong,” Indiana Gaming Commission executive director Ernest Yelton told a group of Hoosier businessmen in 2007. He went on to say that “everything they seem to do has backfired, and it’s been to our benefit.”
That’s obviously a man without an ethical compass. That’s a fellow whose top priority is the amount of money that casinos generate for his state.
Quinn’s concern for schoolchildren instead of gamblers is commendable. In his veto message, he made it clear that he wants a casino bill that will generate more money for education.
Critics may point out that this year alone, Illinois cut its education budget by $200 million and that Quinn wants to shift the state’s teacher pension burden from the state onto local school districts.
The people of Indiana are behind Quinn 100 percent because they understand the significance of his message.
The fact that Illinois has shifted more than 70 percent of the cost of public education onto the backs of school districts, more than any other state in the nation, demonstrates Quinn’s commitment to fiscal responsibility in Springfield.
Sure, the governor feels for those schoolchildren. But that doesn’t mean he and the Illinois General Assembly have to pay for their education.
Quinn doesn’t have to sell out to gambling interests just because a lot of people in Illinois shout, “We need jobs here!” There are jobs in Indiana casinos if Illinois residents really need them.
And the people of Indiana also admire Quinn’s demand for a law prohibiting campaign contributions by casino interests.
But there are plenty of other ways for businessmen to influence Illinois lawmakers. For example, after a state legislator pushed through a multibillion-dollar measure for ComEd that will hike electric rates for customers, he became a lobbyist for the utility.
Casino operators handing out cash would taint the atmosphere of mutual cooperation between lawmakers and businessmen in Springfield.
Great men are rarely appreciated in their hometowns during their lifetime.
Gov. Quinn, the people of Indiana love you.
In fact, there are plans to erect a statue at the entrance to the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.
It would be a life-sized likeness of Quinn, with arms spread wide, and at its base the words:
“Welcome, citizens of Illinois.”