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Local News

Rauner halts video gambling payments to cities

The video gambling area at Izzy's in Joliet. Gov. Bruce Rauner's office announced this week that the state does not have the authority to distribute video gambling money without a budget in place.
The video gambling area at Izzy's in Joliet. Gov. Bruce Rauner's office announced this week that the state does not have the authority to distribute video gambling money without a budget in place.

JOLIET – Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk is not shrugging off the roughly $40,000 a month in video gambling taxes that the city won’t get until the state approves a budget.

“Obviously, it’s income,” O’Dekirk said, and city officials are in the process of trimming the budget. “Forty thousand a month is significant because we’re looking at even smaller amounts.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office announced this week that the state does not have the authority to distribute video gambling money without a budget in place. It was not clear why the state budget impasse affects video gambling money, and the state comptroller’s office is looking into the matter.

“From the city’s point of view, we want all the money we’re entitled to,” O’Dekirk said.

Without a state budget in place, Illinois isn’t able to pay many of its new bills. However, there are some exceptions. Rauner’s office indicates his belief that video gambling payments won’t be among those exceptions.

In the statement, the governor’s camp places the blame for the state’s inability to pass a balanced budget on House Speaker Michael “Madigan and the legislators he controls.”

But Madigan believes Rauner caused the budget holdup, and he argues that the governor could’ve avoided a partial state shutdown by making changes to the budget that Democratic lawmakers sent to him in May and leaving the rest alone.

“The person who had the singular authority to avoid all this was Gov. Rauner,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said.

Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said the $15,000 a month from video gambling is “a nice income” for Morris, but he was not worried about the impact on the city’s operating budget of roughly $29 million a year.

“I have faith it [the state budget] will be fixed before we get to the point of sweating,” he said.

Kopczick said he had not heard of any similar holdups in sales taxes or other revenues distributed through state government.

New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said while he’s not worried about the $3,823 the village would lose out on, he did have harsh words for state government, which is now in its fourth week of a new fiscal year without a budget.

“I’m not surprised. This is typical for Illinois,” Baldermann said. “Local government is constantly under attack by the state, which is a shame. We’re running things efficiently.”

He pointed to Rauner’s earlier budget proposal that would cut municipalities’ share of the state income tax in half as an example of the state relying on local governments to pick up the pieces.

Baldermann said village officials were hesitant to opt into the state’s Video Gaming Act when it first passed years ago.

“When it first came up, I remember saying I don’t trust that [the state] is going to produce the revenue to the municipalities like they said they would,” he said. “And, now, I guess I was right.”

• The Associated Press, which had information from the Arlington Heights-based Daily Herald, contributed to this report.

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