Rauner: No budget means no video gambling money for towns
Suburbs that host video gambling in bars and restaurants and look forward to getting a cut of the money won't see their share until the state has a budget in place, Gov. Bruce Rauner's office said Monday.
When gamblers lose money at the machines, the owners, the state and individual towns each benefit. Rauner's office, however, says that the state won't have the authority to send local governments checks for their portion until there's a budget signed.
"The state does not have appropriation authority to distribute local municipalities their shares from video gambling, because (House Speaker Michael) Madigan and the legislators he controls failed to pass a balanced budget," Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement.
Some suburbs take in thousands of dollars each month from the machines. The apparent delay is the latest twist as Rauner and Democrats feud over a new state spending plan.
"Municipalities have already adopted their budgets and used revenue assumptions that factor in the monthly video gaming payment," Lake County Municipal League Executive Director Mandi Florip said in a statement. "This unpaid amount has the potential to create budget shortfalls to impacted communities in Lake County."
A spokesman for Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said attorneys in her office are looking into the issue.
It wouldn't be the first instance of uncertainty during the budget battle. State employees had to worry about whether they'd get paychecks earlier this month after two judges issued differing opinions on the matter.
Without a budget in place, the state can't legally pay many of its new bills, but there are some exceptions. Rauner's statement indicates his belief that gambling payments won't be among them.
Madigan blames Rauner for the budget holdup, arguing he could have avoided a partial state shutdown by making changes to the state budget Democrats sent him in May and keeping the rest.
"The person who had the singular authority to avoid all this was Gov. Rauner," Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said.
The amount people have spent on video gambling has risen since the machines were introduced, but financial hardships from delayed payments could vary widely.
For example, Hoffman Estates took in $23,289 from the machines last month. Elk Grove Village took in $16,475. Hanover Park earned $8,472. Others towns have rejected video gambling.
• Daily Herald staff writer Mick Zawislak contributed to this story.