SPRINGFIELD - May 26, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today issued an amendatory veto of Senate Bill 28 and returned it to the Illinois General Assembly with revisions that will produce comprehensive reform within McCormick Place, while also eliminating a tax increase that will hurt Illinois’ transportation and convention businesses.
In his amendatory veto message to the Legislature, Governor Quinn stressed the importance of the convention and tourism industry to Illinois’ economy and said his reforms will protect those businesses and create more good-paying jobs for everyday people. Governor Quinn is urging the General Assembly to quickly act on his amendatory veto and work with him to produce a stronger reform bill this week.
“The General Assembly has taken only half a step toward reforming our state’s convention industry,” said Governor Quinn in his amendatory veto message to the Legislature. “When it comes to reform, half measures do not suffice. The only real reform is comprehensive reform.”
A major problem with the legislation is its failure to compel the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McPier), the agency that runs McCormick Place and Navy Pier, to follow the state’s Procurement Code, which Governor Quinn and the General Assembly have worked to improve through a series of ground-breaking amendments.
“The bill directs the Authority to enter into certain agreements in a manner ‘substantially similar’ to the Procurement Code. It is entirely unclear what it means to ‘substantially’ follow the Procurement Code, and I will not tolerate ambiguity on such an important principle,” Governor Quinn said in his amendatory veto message. (Amendatory veto message is attached).
Governor Quinn also struck down a 100 percent tax increase on ground transportation services at O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport, saying those who come to attend conventions and conduct business in Illinois should not be greeted by a doubling of this tax.
“Chicago sits at the crossroads of the world, and those who visit from near and far must know that our state will not burden visitors with a higher transportation tax the moment they get off a plane,” said Governor Quinn.
Governor Quinn added there are serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the legislation, particularly a provision allowing the General Assembly to name a specific person as trustee to oversee McPier operations. In addition, the legislation does not provide for the removal or succession of the trustee, should that person be unable to serve or otherwise fail to properly perform duties.
“This complete lack of accountability places our taxpayers at great risk,” said Governor Quinn.
The amendatory veto message says the Governor must appoint a trustee and recommends installing provisions to replace or succeed that trustee.
The legislation also failed to address the issue of multiple union jurisdictions at McCormick Place. Seeking to address trade shows’ concerns about making the convention center’s operations more customer-friendly, Governor Quinn recommends streamlining the number of bargaining units.
Changing the Authority’s jurisdiction will allow McCormick Place to offer superior service and will make it even more competitive against trade show and convention rivals such as Orlando and Las Vegas, he stated.
Governor Quinn vowed to continue working with the General Assembly to implement comprehensive McPier reform and to enhance Illinois’ convention business, which supports 65,000 jobs and generates $8 billion in annual economic impact.
“By continuing to work together, the General Assembly can take the final steps toward ensuring this vital economic engine will save and create thousands of jobs in our state,” said Governor Quinn. “I expect the General Assembly to act promptly and that this important issue will be concluded this week.”