The Illinois Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld the constitutionality of a $31 million state construction bill that was to be funded through taxes and the legalization of video poker.
An appellate court in January validated a circuit court decision in favor of Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz. He had claimed that the legislature’s backing of a multi-faceted plan to fund construction of roads, schools and transit systems violated state Constitution’s limit of legislation to a single subject.
The construction legislation, approved in 2009, funds the package with increases in taxes on liquor, soft drinks and beauty products, as well as the legalization of video poker. Gov. Pat Quinn touted the program as Illinois Jobs Now!
Supreme Court justices wrote: “The appellate court held that the single subject of Public Act 96–34 was revenue, based on its official title, 'An Act concerning revenue.' However, defendants assert before this court that the single subject of Public Act 96–34 is capital projects. Defendants are not limited solely to the contents of the title of an act in offering a single subject rationale. ... Moreover, capital projects is a legitimate single subject, one which is not “so broad that the rule is evaded as ‘a meaningful constitutional check on the legislature’s actions."
The decision was lauded by Gov. Pat Quinn and state Senate President John Cullerton, who wrote in a prepared statement: "The Supreme Court’s endorsement of the construction program affirms the
bipartisan work done by the General Assembly. This ruling serves as a
reminder of just how important the 2009 jobs program was and what the
General Assembly can accomplish when politics is set aside and people participate."
Meanwhile, Quinn, calling the decision “gratifying,” told reporters at a press conference: “This means our job recovery program can go forward full speed ahead.”