The Senator was asked about the latest plan to fund state government operations.
At a Chicago appearance, Durbin, D-Ill., said he is not morally opposed to gambling or the idea of adding a "couple" of Illinois casinos "here and there." But Durbin voiced concern that lawmakers could become overly reliant on new gambling.
"I really, really think we ought to stop and catch our breath and say, 'Is this the future of Illinois - that every time we want to do something, we'll just build more casinos?'" he said. "When that becomes the answer to every question, I start to worry about it."...
"Most of the people who go in are low-income people and elderly people who lose money that they can't afford to lose," Durbin said. "That to me seems like a wrong way to finance the important programs that we need in this country."
Very well said, Mr. Senator.
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In what appeared to be a backhand aimed at the Governor, the Senator added this:
Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich has said he supports the Senate casino expansion as a preferable way to generate capital funding, rather than raising taxes on working families. Asked what other revenue sources the legislature should consider besides gaming, Durbin suggested leaders should be "honest." (emphasis added)
"I think they should be more honest with people," he said. "Selling off state assets and building casinos will only take you so far."
Blagojevich, in his first term, suggested selling or leasing the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago to offset budget problems - an idea that was widely panned.
And in closing, he added this sad but true nugget,
"I wish I could blame the Republicans, but I can't figure out how to do it," Durbin joked. "I hope that they'll come to their senses and that the Democratic leaders down there will get together and compromise."
I hope that he's right.