CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich yesterday called a special session of the General Assembly for Jan. 2 in an attempt to resolve the longstanding impasse on a Chicago-area transit bailout plan that would avert deep service cuts, fare hikes, and layoffs set to take effect Jan. 20. “There will be only 18 days to work before the transit doomsday, so you should be prepared to meet as often as needed during that period,” the governor said in a letter to lawmakers. The governor and various legislative leaders have endorsed a plan to divert about $400 million in gasoline taxes collected in the Chicago area from the state general fund to transit. Action on the proposal has been stalled by the insistence of Republican leaders and downstate lawmakers that the General Assembly simultaneously adopt a new $25 billion capital budget. The state House had been scheduled to meet earlier this week on a proposal to expand gaming to finance the capital budget, but House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who has been feuding with the governor, cancelled it due to the lack of a final agreement on the plan. He also cited as a distraction the recent indictment of Chris Kelly, Blagojevich’s former fundraiser and point person on gaming issues, on federal tax fraud charges. The governor singled out Madigan in his letter for blame on the delay. “This delay leaves millions of people waiting in uncertainty. I had hoped to receive legislation on my desk before the end of the calendar year,” he wrote.
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