Illinois Taxpayers, Government Programs Pay for Unconstitutional Video Game Law

Last week I learned from that the Illinois Governor has raided welfare funds to help pay for the ESA’s legal fees after his video game legislation was ruled unconstitutional. I’ve written previously about this law, and I was unsurprised to find that this law was merely pandering to fear.

I was also unsurprised, as Blagojevich should have been, that the law was deemed unconstitutional. I mean, every other state that passed similar laws saw them meet the same fate.

According to Ars Technica’s take on this situation:

It would be easier to defend the state’s efforts at fighting for the law if there weren’t so many strong precedents: by the time Illinois got around to writing its gaming law, Missouri, Indiana, and Washington had already tried to pass similar laws, only to fail on constitutional grounds. There was very little evidence that the law had any chance of succeeding in Illinois, but Gov. Blagojevich saw the law as a politically safe move.

Illinois owed about $1 million in legal fees. At the time, we already knew Illinois taxpayers would be the ones to take the punishment, but now we find that multiple departments had their budgets pillaged.

Let’s see if we can put these facts together:

  • Illinois has been having budget problems in general.
  • Blago went ahead with a bill that was just like unconstitutional laws from other states.
  • Now the legal fees need to be paid by grabbing money from departments that are already cash-strapped.

A different Ars Technica article has more details about the budget moves:

Some of the areas money was taken from included the public health department, the state’s welfare agency and even the economic development department.

A state representative who attended recent hearings on the issue said that Gov. Blagojevich’s staff simply spread the legal bills around by sticking them to agencies which had funds left in their budgets—even if the agencies had nothing to do with the issue or the litigation.

Is there a reason why this bit of news ends up in the Quad Cities Online but not in the Chicago Sun-Times or the Chicago Tribune? $1,000,000 is a lot of money for Illinois taxpayers to lose, especially when it didn’t have to.

[tags] illinois, government, taxes, video games, constitutionality [/tags]