CFL News
May 08, 2012

Organized labor to Springfield leaders: pass gaming solution

The Chicago Federation of Labor joined other unions in urging lawmakers in Springfield to pass a gaming bill that would create thousands of jobs across Illinois

Source: Decatur Tribune

Representatives from Illinois’ organized labor community rallied today in support of a gaming solution that will create more than 20,000 jobs and bring in $200 million in new annual revenue for the state.

“Passing this legislation will give the state a much-needed economic shot in the arm that will speed up recovery and create new jobs when they’re needed most,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael T. Carrigan. “During these times of economic uncertainty and widening budget deficits, Illinois can ill afford to pass up the single largest job creation plan in decades. The working men and women of Illinois need this bill passed immediately.”

A broad spectrum of labor groups is urging legislative leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn to pass Senate Bill 1849 before the end of this legislative session. The bill would expand gaming in Illinois to allow for: new casinos in Chicago, Lake County, south suburban Chicago, Rockford and Danville; additional slot machines at existing casinos and the addition of slot machines at the state’s six horseracing tracks.

“We’re united in putting Illinois working families back to work,” said Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “SB 1849 is a jobs bill that would serve as an economic engine for all parts of the state, including here in Chicago. If enacted, it would spur immediate hiring and lay the ground work for the jobs of the future.”

A recent independent study found that Illinois stands to gain significant economic benefits under SB 1849. The legislation would create 20,451 new jobs and result in more than $1.5 billion in personal income, including 9,800 full-time direct jobs with $323 million in annual wages as well as more than 4,500 construction-related jobs, translating into nearly $475 million in wages, benefits and taxes.

SB 1849 would translate into a total of $809.2 million per year in taxes and admission fees for the state, or an increase of $195.3 million, the study noted. In addition, the state would receive an additional reconciliation payment of $1.17 billion and $377 million in initial licensing fees.

The labor groups are part of  the recently formed Illinois Revenue & Jobs Alliance (IRJA), a growing statewide consortium composed of more than 80 members, including labor organizations, business groups, farming and agribusiness interests, racetracks and horsemen associations, and local municipalities, all committed to the creation of new jobs and state revenue that expanded gaming would bring.

“Each new job created will have a ripple effect in the local community and on our state’s financial health,” said Terry Allen, business manager for the IBEW Local 134. “Job creation leads to new workers earning wages, spending money and strengthening communities.”

According to a newly released poll of 800 Illinoisans across the state, 62 percent of residents support a gaming solution that includes more casinos and the addition of slot machines at racetracks as a solution to create more than 20,000 jobs and generate nearly $200 million annually for the state. The Alexandria, Virginia-based Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted April 10- 12 shows that 74 percent of residents overwhelmingly back legislation to expand gaming to help generate new revenue and jobs as opposed to increasing taxes or cutting government programs.

The survey found that job creation resulting from the bill resonated most with Illinois residents, with 70 percent more likely to support a gaming solution, knowing the economic benefits.

“Weknow that all Illinoisans are feeling the effects of the recession as jobs throughout the state disappear, making it more difficult for families to make ends meet,” saidTom Balanoff, President of Service Employees International Union Illinois Council and President of SEIU Local 1. “With the state’s unemployment rate at a staggering 9 percent, the sobering fact is that Illinois needs more jobs – and we need them now.”

The economic impact of the bill projected SB 1849 would also create 2,723 full-time jobs at racetracks and 1,038 full-time construction-related jobs at those venues.

Additionally, SB 1849 would provide a stable foundation for the preservation of more than 30,000 agribusiness jobs – according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture – located throughout Illinois, including farmers and breeders. It’s estimated that an additional 5,000 agribusiness jobs would be created under SB 1849.

“SB 1849 is a win for the state and Illinois residents, generating more than $1.5 billion in personal income earned through creating more than 20,000 new jobs at no cost to taxpayers,” said Henry Tamarin, President of UNITE HERE Local 1. “More people at work means more tax revenues coming in to help balance our city, county and state budgets and put Illinoisans on the path to recovery.”