Gov. Quinn Calls For New Capital Construction Program
By Sean Powers
Illinois’ largest capital construction program expires next year, and Gov. Pat Quinn say he hopes to introduce a similar plan. However, it is unclear how that would be funded.
Quinn stopped in Urbana on Monday to announce $6.4 million in state support for transportation projects in east central Illinois.
The money comes from Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! program, which began in 2010 and ends next year. The grant money is for any local transportation needs, such as repaving a street or fixing a curb or gutter. Projects will be chosen locally, and receive oversight from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The funding announced Monday in Urbana is going to the following counties: Champaign, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Ford, Iroquois, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Shelby and Vermilion. The governor also awarded nearly $3.5 million in grants for transportation projects in Chicago's south suburbs.
Gov. Quinn promised to push for another capital construction plans.
“We have more to build,” he said. “We’re doing more building on (the University of Illinois) campus. We’re over at Parkland Community College, building. We have to understand that if we don’t build; we don’t invest; we don’t grow. We have to grow, and have a strong economy.”
Funding for any future bill remains uncertain.
“We’ll get to that,” Quinn said. “Obviously, that’s a key part of the equation.”
Meanwhile, with the General Assembly’s fall veto session a week away, the legislative committee tasked with coming up with a solution to the state's nearly $100 billion pension crisis is divided, according to The Associated Press.
Lawmakers cannot consider the pension proposal unless it is signed by six committee members. Gov. Quinn said he has met with the committee, and plans to meet with more of the members this week.
They have done a lot of research,” Quinn said. “They’ve used actuaries and all kinds of stuff, and hopefully they will have a plan that they will unveil shortly that can be considered by the House and the Senate and voted on. Hopefully they can pass it, so that it comes to my desk, and I can sign it into law.”
“We want to make sure it’s constitutional,” he added. “We want to make sure it’s fair to everyone, and if this happens, it’ll be a great step forward for our economy in Illinois.”
Quinn said any legislation dealing with tax breaks must be put aside until there is a pension agreement, a point he made earlier this month in response to a push to offer tax breaks to Archer Daniels Midland Company to keep it from moving its global headquarters from the state.
“Any special legislation that would give tax breaks to ADM or any other company I don’t think is the proper priority right now,” Quinn said on Monday. “The priority is pension reform that is constitutional and fair, and so I think the company would be best off helping us get pension reform.”
Last month, ADM announced that after 44 years in Decatur, it’s moving its headquarters. While it will not say what locations it is considering, Chicago officials have said the city is in the running.
Another development effort that Quinn talked about is Illinois’ bid to get a $1.2 billion fertilizer plant in Tuscola. He said he met with the developers of the project, and this year signed a bill to provide incentives to Cronus Chemical LLC to build the plant in Tuscola.
“This would be a very large economic endeavor, and it would create a lot of jobs and also help our manufacturing and our agriculture,” Quinn said. “There are other states that are competing with us, and we have to put our best foot forward. Iowa is the major one.”
The plant would employ about 150 permanent positions, and 2,000 short-term construction jobs.
Quinn’s office also confirms that the governor has made significant headway in addressing a backlog of 2,500 clemency requests that piled up under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. A Quinn spokesman said there are now 200 requests that have not been addressed from when Blagojevich was in office.
Last week, Gov. Quinn granted 65 clemency petitions, and denied 124. He said he regularly meets to discuss pending clemency petitions.
“You have to take each case individually, look at all the facts, and make a decision,” he said. “I’m very sympathetic to Solomon and the old Testament. He had to make a lot of decisions, and you hope you make the right ones. You try to apply your conscious to every single case.”