SPRINGFIELD--Gov. Pat Quinn opened a day of Democratic politicking at the Illinois State Fair today by criticizing legislation that allows slot machines at the fairground racetrack.
Quinn also expressed deep reservations about putting slot machines at horse tracks around the state, a key element in a gambling package lawmakers passed in May.
Lawmakers haven't sent the gambling bill to Quinn out of fear he will veto it, and the governor continued his practice of picking apart the measure without saying whether he would reject it or sign it.
"Harness racing has been at the fair for a long time, but when you put in slot machines, that's a totally different situation," Quinn said. "I was never excited about that."
Asked if the proposal for year-round slots at the fair should be removed from the legislation, Quinn said, "I don't know what we're getting out of that."
Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, said the issue of how to meet Quinn's overall concerns about the gambling package will be a topic discussed by Democrats today. But he said the provisions for slots at race tracks were critical to winning approval to the overall gambling package that also would put a land-based casino in Chicago and four other locations.
Quinn plans to leave Springfield midday to meet up today with President Barack Obama during his swing through northwestern Illinois. At a morning meeting of the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen's Association, Quinn did his share to knock down Obama's potential rivals. He took shots at Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry, disparaging his political positions as a "so-called philosophy."
At the fair Quinn is the target of protests by unionized state workers who decried Quinn's refusal to give pay raises to employees scheduled to begin July 1. Quinn maintained he cannot give the raises because lawmakers did not provide enough money.
Also this morning, Democratic Secretary of State Jesse White, 77, said he will run for re-election in 2014 despite telling Democrats last year his new term won in November would be his last.
As a former "military man," White said, he wanted to follow the mission.