A Casino in Chicago is as bad as a tax increase

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According to news reports, Republicans in the General Assembly are about to surrender even more ground by supporting an expansion of gambling into corrupt Chicago. If someone was thinking that the Republican brand name in Illinois can’t get any more tarnished that person was clearly wrong.

So, let’s get this hunt-for-more-revenue story straight. Back in January Republicans started to talk about raising the income tax. In May, they started to say that historic natural revenue growth should be enough. Now, they seem ready to make up for their personal disappointment that we don’t have a Governor Topinka by supporting her biggest and dumbest idea: putting a casino in the heart of corrupt Cook County.

We hope that Attorney General Lisa Madigan will soon issue a statement explaining how Chicago is different than Rosemont.

Elected Republicans keep taking the wrong fork in the road and then wonder why this state is so blue.

We’ve just experienced a historic summer – two full months of an overtime session that thinking Republicans could’ve made use of to show Illinois voters how they’d do things differently.

What we have gotten instead are a bunch of wimpy quotes from Republican legislators about the need to build schools, roads, and fund other government services. Yes, we know – that’s what government does. That’s what they’re supposed to be spending all that existing money on. But to say they need more in a time of record revenues is just evidence that Republican legislators are still failing to present real solutions.

We’ll keep repeating the simple fact that this is about the taxeaters versus the taxpayers until the right people learn it. When they’re still on that perpetual hunt for more revenue, we know whose side they’re on.

When will we hear the Republican caucuses talk about providing real oversight of all the existing spending? Taxpayers are left to conclude that most of the Republicans currently holding office just don’t want to have to do that much work.

We don’t think it’s too much to ask that they outline what their governing principles actually are when it comes to setting a budget. For some recommended reading, click here.

There won’t be any growth in the Republican Party in Illinois until it becomes a taxpayer party, not a taxeater party. We need to hear elected Republicans discussing what works – why we need to set real priorities – and why so much of what government spends right now is wasted.

Last month the St. Louis Post-Dispatch told us all we needed to know about what’s driving end-of-session decision making regarding gambling:

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, the records show:

— Gambling interests gave close to $400,000 in donations, largely to state legislators, who have turned away attempts this year to raise casino taxes and are still pondering proposals to allow gambling expansion at riverboats and horse tracks. The donors included the East St. Louis-based Casino Queen and its owners, who gave about $80,000, and Fairmount Park horse-racing track in Collinsville, which gave $17,000…

“When you have, for example, the gambling industry, versus these groups that want to raise questions about gambling, … the money really distorts that” debate, said [Kent] Redfield [a political scientist and campaign finance expert at the University of Illinois—Springfield].

It’s easy for politicians to serve the taxeaters and those who seek to profit at the public’s expense (like those who invest in casinos). It’s also easy to stay as the minority party – which is exactly where the Republicans will be as long as they continue to make the wrong choices.

©2007 John Francis Biver

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