The Obama administration and Gov. Pat Quinn have agreed on a sale price for the vacant Thomson Correctional Center, two Illinois state lawmakers said Wednesday.

However, the governor's office and a top congressional advocate for the deal said there still is work to be done to complete a purchase. Neither would confirm that a price has been agreed to for the prison.

Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, and Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said in separate interviews Wednesday that the two sides had agreed to a $165 million sale price.

"My understanding is there has been some kind of handshake, and the deal is moving forward," Jacobs said.

Earlier in the day, Morthland said he was told that an agreement was reached two weeks ago, but it was being kept quiet until funding could be secured.

Morthland said he began telling some members of the Quad-City news media after other outlets began reporting the news.

The Obama administration has tried to buy the vacant prison for a year-and-a-half, first proposing that it become a home for foreign detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

That plan was blocked, but the administration has said it wants the prison anyway to ease overcrowding in the federal system.

Even that effort has been stalled, though, because funding has not come through.

Efforts in Congress to secure the $170 million needed to purchase the prison foundered late last year and did not get in the 2011 budget deal when that was approved a few months ago.

Since then, the office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has been working with the administration and the Federal Bureau of Prisons to try to reprogram money that already has been appropriated as a way to pay for the acquisition.

"He hopes this can be done as soon as possible so that the purchase can move forward and bring with it the jobs and economic development so important to the region's future," spokeswoman Christina Mulka said Wednesday.

Like Durbin's office, a Quinn spokesman also said it is continuing to work toward completing a deal, but he would not say whether a price has been reached.

"We are continuing to work with the federal government regarding the sale of Thomson Correctional Center. We hope to complete the sale as soon as possible," Grant Klinzman added.

A Federal Bureau of Prisons official declined comment on a deal.

The $165 million price cited by the state lawmakers would be less than the appraised value, which was set last year at $220 million. But it would be higher than the $140 million the state paid to build the prison 10 years ago.

Federal officials say the federally owned Thomson prison could mean about 1,000 new jobs for the area north of the Quad-Cities.

 


EARLIER STORY

Ed Tibbetts at 12:36 a.m.

The Obama administration and Gov. Pat Quinn have agreed on a sale price for the vacant Thomson Correctional Center, two state lawmakers said Wednesday.

The governor’s office, however, wouldn’t confirm a price and said it hadn’t completed a sale yet.

Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, and Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said in separate interviews this morning that the two sides had agreed to a $165 million sale price.

“My understanding is there has been some kind of handshake and the deal is moving forward,” Jacobs said this morning.

Earlier, Morthland said he was told there was an agreement.

Congress still must appropriate the money to buy the facility, which the administration wants to house federal prisoners.

“We are continuing to work with the federal government regarding the sale of Thomson Correctional Center. We hope to complete the sale as soon as possible,” Grant Klinzman, a spokesman for the governor, said in an email this morning.

The Thomson deal has been idling for months.

Initially, the administration had asked that Congress buy Thomson to house foreign detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But bipartisan opposition put a stop to that plan.

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Federal officials say the operation could mean 1,000 new jobs for the area.

The $165 million price would be less than the appraised value, which came in at $220 million. But it would be higher than the $140 million the state paid to build the prison 10 years ago.

The administration last year asked Congress to approve $170 million to buy the prison.


EARLIER STORY

Lawmaker: Federal, state governments strike deal on Thomson prison

Ed Tibbetts at 11:49 a.m.

The Obama administration and Gov. Pat Quinn have agreed on a sale price for the vacant Thomson Correctional Center, a state lawmaker said Wednesday.

Rep. Rich Morthland, a Republican from Cordova, said the two sides have agreed to a deal at $165 million.

Immediate confirmation wasn’t available from the administration or Quinn’s office this morning.

An agreement wouldn’t seal the deal for a newly opened prison. Congress still must appropriate the money to buy the facility, which the administration wants to house federal prisoners.

Federal officials say the operation could mean 1,000 new jobs for the area.

Initially, the administration had asked that Congress buy Thomson to house foreign detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But bipartisan opposition put a stop to that plan.

The $165 million price would be less than the appraised value, which came in at $220 million. But it would be higher than the $140 million the state paid to build the prison 10 years ago.

Last year, the administration requested $170 million from Congress to buy the facility.