Monday, May 08, 2006

Risky Bet

So Dave McKinney from the Sun-Times today writes about the ongoing battle between Illinois casino owners and the horse racing industry folks. The genesis of the article is legislation passed in the closing moments of session that will take a percentage of the boat profits and transfer the money to the tracks.
Stung by a legislative loss to the horse racing industry, Illinois' casinos are contemplating legal action to block a plan to shift $36 million annually from four Chicago area casinos to racetracks and horsemen.

Gov. Blagojevich is expected to sign legislation he helped pass to take 3 percent of revenues from the state's top-grossing casinos in the next two years and give it to the racing industry, which has donated roughly $250,000 to him.

Now setting aside the fact that I have had bills on issues like campaign finance reform that I can't get called ONCE over a period of YEARS, and this bill gets called in the House THREE times in a MONTH (allowing sufficient pressure to be applied to certain members in order for them to have an epiphany that their previous 'no' votes were somehow misguided), I just think that this is a bad bill.

Let me make a couple of things clear. I have a lot of respect for the horse racing industry and consider a number of their representatives to be friends. I have not been a proponent of increased casino gaming in the past (I voted against the Rosemont bill). That having been said, this is still just a shaky way for us to do business.

And while I think that the casino owners are serious about their threats of legal actions, I have no way of knowing what the courts would do with this issue. But common sense should dictate that it is wrong to tax one segment of an industry in order to enhance the bottom line of another segment of the same industry. You don't tax Starbuck's because Dunkin Donuts is having a hard time making a go of it.

Time, and maybe the courts, will decide the fate of this issue. But this may wind up being on of those votes (remember the quickly struck down SBC bill a little while back?) that comes back to haunt some people in the future.


At May 8, 2006 at 11:46 AM, Anonymous Down the street from the Gov said...

When will legislators learn that they are not the almighty deciders of every aspect of the world? To interfere in the marketplace like this is terrible. I love horses (Seabiscut, Black Beauty, Mr. Ed), but if the industry can't hack it, well, welcome to the real world.

As far as the Governor rounding up votes for the bill, that stinks too. Maybe if me and my neighbors, who are also his neighbors, gave him a quarter-million dollars, he would be doing SOMETHING to keep us from being taxed out of our homes. If he gets re-elected, it will NOT be because his neighbors voted for him. We won't.

At May 8, 2006 at 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The GA giveth, the GA taketh away.

At May 8, 2006 at 12:23 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Down the street,
What does the governor have to do with your property taxes? Anyway, I agree that it is unfair to tax the casinos to pay the race track owners. If they can't afford to stay in business sell and move. By the way, that is kind of how I feel about your (and Rod's) property taxes.
If you have lived in your home more than 4 years and have to worry about taxes, it is time to move. Take the money and run.

At May 8, 2006 at 12:58 PM, Anonymous Down the street from the gov said...


Our property taxes are through the roof because of the way that the state funds schools. The Gov has said repeatedly that he would address the issue, he hasn't, what a surprise.

At May 8, 2006 at 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


In response to: "If you have lived in your home more than 4 years and have to worry about taxes, it is time to move. Take the money and run."

Never should a person be driven out of their home because of escalating property taxes - based on what the neighbors are getting for their properties. Sometimes, in case you are not aware, a home for many of us is about MORE than just money. Neighborhood, security, a sense of belonging... a community, if you will.

The property tax issue, especially with the recent defeat of SB2350 will come to a head this fall, and the Governor had better be willing to show some leadership for his constituents.

Perhaps now is a good time to introduce Acquisition Based Assessing to Illinois.

...more to come...

At May 8, 2006 at 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



Property tax should be based on purchase price. No assessment needed. If you want more revenue, raise the rate.

At May 9, 2006 at 7:11 AM, Anonymous silentk said...

Hon. John,

There seems to be interest in the property tax issue. Perhaps a blg topic on 7% and acquisition based assessing would be in order?

At May 9, 2006 at 7:41 AM, Blogger Bill said...

SB2350 was a sham that continued moving the property tax burden from affluent, property rich districts like yours to less affluent property poor districts.
Voters can improve their tax situation by electing local leaders that will end the corrupt, patronage systems that cause property taxes to soar.
There are many examples:
The Chicago public schools employ over 100 central office employees at over $100k per year who provide no services to the schools and never actually see a real student.
The City of Chicago....well we all know about their problem...pick up a Sun-times any day of the week and look for the latest indictments.
Over 1/3 of the City Colleges of Chicago payroll goes to high priced administrators and lawyers who,again, provide little or no direct service to actual students.
Cook County Gov't is filled with well paid "administrators" making 6 figure salaries who could disappear and noone would know for a long time.
Water Reclamation commissioners are paid a salary of $50,000 plus a car and two patronage employees for attending a meeting once every two months.
Well this is getting a little long and I am only 1/3 of the way through my tax bill.
Why should the rest of the state have to pay for this?
While it is always popular, nowadays, to bash the governor and blame him for everything,this is not the governor's fault or his responsibility. It is the voters' fault.


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