CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Illinois Lottery sales dropped by tens of millions of dollars last month after officials stopped paying winners.
Gov. Bruce Rauner's Administration revealed the latest blow to state finances as new doubts arose about a deal that could clear the way for lottery winners to get their cash.
The House approved a bill allowing the Lottery to resume payouts by a big bipartisan majority. But then House Speaker Mike Madigan pulled a switcheroo, refusing to send it to the Senate. Some saw pure political grandstanding.
“There's a willingness to compromise among almost everyone, except Mike Madigan. And now we have situations where he's clearly standing in the way,” said State Senator Christine Radogno.
In addition to empowering the Lottery to resume paying winners, the House-approved measure now frozen by Speaker Madigan also includes cash for snow-melting road salt. The 4-1/2 month state budget stalemate has cut off funds that dozens of suburban and Downstate communities use to buy wintertime road salt. They warn that just a few inches of snow and ice could trigger a traffic debacle.
“This wasn't a Democratic or a Republican issue,” said State Rep. Ken Dunkin.
South Side Rep. Dunkin became the first Democrat to break ranks last month and did it again this week. He's expressed frustration with Speaker Madigan hardline refusal to compromise. So, Dunkin cut his own deal, persuading Gov. Rauner to reverse budget cuts to services for seniors and child care for the working poor.
“We're talking about 100,000 kids now have funding because the governor was able to have his mind changed,” Dunkin said.
FOX 32: Governor, are we closer to a deal in Springfield?
“How you doin'?” Rauner responded.
FOX 32: Governor, are we closer to a deal at the State Capitol?
Gov. Rauner rarely talks to reporters and declined again on Thursday.
Dunkin's cooperation with Rauner has already brought forth a challenger in the Democratic primary next March. Automobile salesman Andre Smith said several unions will soon publicly endorse him.
FOX 32: What's bad about having a state rep talk to the governor?
“Well, what's bad about a state rep leaving Democratic values, going behind the door, in the back room, discussing things with the governor that the Democratic Party don't know about, that's what you call a sellout,” said candidate for State Representative Andre Smith.
Even if Smith beats Rep. Dunkin in the primary, Dunkin would remain a voting House member until January, 2017, which means Madigan may effectively have lost his house supermajority until then.