Advocates of the state legislative measure known as the Quality of Life bill will celebrate the measure becoming law with a reception at Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park, on Nov. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
The statute establishes the Quality of Life lottery game, which would provide state-wide funding opportunities for community-based and local governmental organizations who serve those most at risk for contracting HIV and developing AIDS. The game will be discontinued on Dec. 31, 2012.
However, the measure had to overcome a hurdle in order to remain intact. According to a press release from State Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D--7th Dist.—who sponsored the bill—Gov. Rod Blagojevich attempted 'to weaken the law with an amendatory veto.' To clarify, the release went on to state that ' [ t ] he governor agreed that the Quality of Life lottery ticket should be offered to the people of Illinois, but he tried to change the program in a way that could limit its availability to a single nine-month period.
'The measure passed the General Assembly in June and received an amendatory veto from the governor in August,' the release continued. ( Both houses overrode the veto Oct. 11. ) 'His changes, if accepted by the General Assembly, would stipulate that no more than two charity scratch-off tickets could be offered for sale at one time, and for no longer than nine months. ... Since Yarbrough's ticket expires in 2012, the governor's changes might have made the ticket available only once before it expired.'
When asked why the governor vetoed the measure, Justin DeJong, the communications director of Blagojevich's Office of Management and Budget, responded with a statement. The statement said that 'the Governor wholly supports the intent of the bill' but added that the amendments 'were technical in nature based on how and when the Illinois Lottery administers special lottery tickets. Offering a great number of lottery tickets for this and other important causes can cannibalize overall ticket sales and therefore impact the level of funding for each cause. The Governor requested that the legislation be changed so only a limited number of special lottery tickets can be sold at any given time, so each ticket can generate the optimum level of money.'
Michael O'Connor, an advocate who fought for the passage of the bill, had his own response to the statement. 'As far as I'm concerned, if the [ optimum ] amount of money for HIV revenue had been given to the various service providers in the state of Illinois, we would not have had to resort to gambling,' he said. 'I know that some people have a problem with the moral aspect of gambling, but from what I've gathered, it looks like this is an economic solution because nobody wants to talk about raising taxes. ... It's clear that there's been no other implementation of revenue. ... [ Neither ] State Sen. [ Jacqueline ] Collins nor State Rep. Yarbrough were proponents of gambling, but they saw that the issue was bigger than other aspects. That's leadership.'
O'Connor—who emphasized that he was not attacking the governor, but was 'tired of coming up short'—went on to say that ' [ the governor ] cut $1.4 million for HIV/AIDS. How are you going to cut money when the numbers are higher? ... There is an old saying in politics: Good politics is by addition, not subtraction. What I'm seeing is that people are having things subtracted from them.'