Gambling Overshadows Illinois Projects - Thursday 19th of January 2006

ILLINOIS – As reported by the Illinois Journal Standard: "Earlier this month, Gov. Rod Blagojevich visited Rockford to tout a $3 billion construction program that included money for popular, big-ticket initiatives that have languished for years, including the widening of U.S. 20 from Freeport to Galena.

"But lost amid the initial headlines of renewed hope for projects near and dear to cities and counties was the fine print of how to pay for the program, which requires borrowing $500 million for school construction,$425 million for mass transit, and $2.3 billion for roads.

"Three weeks later, however, the focus is less on the big projects and more on Blagojevich's plan to fund them in part with proceeds from gambling expansion, specifically, the introduction of keno gaming into bars and restaurants throughout Illinois. Needless to say, local lawmakers, including State Sen. Todd Sieben, R-Geneseo, and State Rep. Jim Sacia,

"…There have been few details released about how the program would work in Illinois, and lawmakers remain skeptical, especially those who don't view gambling as wholesome recreation.

"…For its part, the governor's office maintains that the keno plan doesn't represent a gaming expansion because it technically falls under the state's existing lottery program…"

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