Budget and debt debates still stalling Thomson prison opening

2013-09-05T18:15:00Z 2013-09-05T18:52:57Z Budget and debt debates still stalling Thomson prison openingEd Tibbetts etibbetts@qctimes.com The Quad-City Times
September 05, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

THOMSON, Ill. — It's been a year since the Obama administration moved to have the federal government buy the Thomson Correctional Center, but budget and debt talks in Washington, D.C., still stand in the way of opening the vacant facility and creating 1,100 jobs, officials said here Thursday. 

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., met with village officials and others to answer questions about the project. But the answer that could not be given, at least not now, is whether a budget deal will be struck that will include money for opening the prison.

In addition to getting Congress to approve the project, just getting a budget itself is an uncertainty. The House and Senate have differing spending targets.

Durbin said he thinks there will be a budget, but it's not clear when it might come.

Lawmakers are expected to pass a short-term stopgap measure when they return this month from their August recess.

That would keep the government running past the end of the month, but it would not trigger a Thomson opening. That would require a new budget.

Congress also must act by mid-October to raise the debt ceiling.

How all that fits together is uncertain.

"I think it's going to be very challenging," Durbin said.

The meeting at a school here drew a good-sized crowd. The people in the Carroll County village have been waiting in vain for years to see the prison open.

And yet Mayor Vicki Trager said she is optimistic.

"Of course. What else can I be? I have to be optimistic," she said.

As for the uncertainty in Washington, she said that after years of state budget difficulties standing in the way of getting the prison open, this is not that much different.

"We're no stranger to politics and discord and issues with the budget," she said.

The federal government has completed purchase of the prison, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons has been in contact with local officials.

A representative from the Federal Bureau of Prisons also was at the meeting.

Bill Dalius, the assistant director for administration at the agency, said the bureau is prepared to "move quickly" to hire personnel and get ready for Thomson's opening once money is appropriated.

He said the plan is to hire 300 people in the 2014 fiscal year, with the rest in 2015. Inmates would begin arriving during the summer and fall months of 2015.

An added hurdle continues to be opposition to the project in Congress, principally from a key Virginia lawmaker.

Bustos said she has asked Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to help set up a meeting with Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who has been a persistent critic of the project. Even if a meeting does not happen, Bustos said she would seek Wolf out herself in order to make the argument for opening the prison.

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(11) Comments

  1. snowman05
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    snowman05 - September 06, 2013 9:41 am
    So can we blame Illinois problems now on dems little? They have had for how many years in a row the gov and both houses? Or did Reagan cause this also? Wait maybe Lincoln?!
  2. snowman05
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    snowman05 - September 06, 2013 8:07 am
    Well said painful. Why were these elected officials asked yesterday if they really felt there would be a budget passed in 2014? When POTUS was elected he had super majorities if Dems in both houses and couldn't get a budget passed, but now they claim next years budget will have money in it. Way to go Illinois, keep listening to Journey, don't stop believing in Dems. Lol
  3. PainfullTruth
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    PainfullTruth - September 06, 2013 6:10 am
    While you are looking up your facts, be sure to turn to page 2. There is more useful information past the headline.
  4. PainfullTruth
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    PainfullTruth - September 06, 2013 6:09 am
    Yes the prison was finished while Ryan was still the Governor. You do realize that when this was planned/built that the State House and Senate voted on it and they are both controlled by...... Democrats. So once again you blame the Republicans for another spending project by the Democrat party.

    Do we want to start talking about all the Democrats that are CONvicts? Does Blago ring a bell?

    So again, you call this a Republican created problem because the Democrats voted in both houses to fund it, so be it. Ryan was a horrible Governor. You won't get me to stick up for him!

    Once again I see you resort to more name calling "numbnutz" and "Mental Midget". Yet I see that once again your facts are wrong. You blame the Governor, and only him. While he does have most of the blame for spending money on a project like the prison, you must include the members of the House and Senate that actually approve funds for the project. Both of which were controlled by DEMOCRATS. So keep lecturing me about not knowing facts when for the past 3 subjects you have been proven utterly incompetent on each subject. When you get backed into a corner and can't debate your side you resort to more name calling which shows both your lack of maturity and lack of facts.

    There is a big difference between you and me. You are a die hard liberal and hate anything connected to a Republican. I am an Independent and will call out a bad idea, regardless of party affiliation. When more people drop the party lines and start grading people as people, more will get accomplished.

    BTW - How is that Gitmo closing going? How is supporting Al-Queda in Syria going? Looks like Obama's non-surprise attack plan is going to fail in both the Senate and House.
  5. longjohn412
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    longjohn412 - September 05, 2013 9:25 pm
    A few other facts

    Edgar's claimed costs - $98 million

    Actual cost - over $140 Million (And that doesn't include the 12 years of maintenance at several million per year for an empty prison)

    That's a pretty big miss ...... over 40% off
  6. longjohn412
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    longjohn412 - September 05, 2013 9:14 pm
    This was Jim Edgar's deal, a Republican, lock stock and barrel

    Go look it up .....

    This is was and always will be a REPUBLICAN CREATED PROBLEM

    The GOP under Edgar built a prison the state DID NOT NEED and COULD NOT AFFORD ... But you can bet the Contractors all profited handsomely whether it opened or not
  7. longjohn412
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    longjohn412 - September 05, 2013 8:14 pm
    Thomson prison was planned and started during the Edgar Administration and was finished under the Ryan Administration .... and then was immediately shuttered and has remained that way for over 10 years ...It was finished during the Ryan's term since which time Ryan was booted from office, CONvicted of crimes and has served his sentence another governor served 2 terms and was convicted and is serving time

    This REPUBLICAN CREATED PROBLEM has been ongoing for quite some time numbnutz

    Crack a history book once in a while Mental Midget ...... Maybe you'll actually learn something .....
  8. snowman05
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    snowman05 - September 05, 2013 6:16 pm
    Little gets his ideas from the DNC. If there is anyway to blame the GOP he will. Detroit is because if the GOP in his eyes. He's fun to read. He probably works for the Times.
  9. PainfullTruth
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    PainfullTruth - September 05, 2013 3:51 pm
    littlejohn,

    Where do you get your facts? I know you hate the EVIL Republicans, but how is Obama (Democrat) failing to open a prison owned by Illinois and Pat Quinn (Democrat) a Republican issue? How long has Obama said that he wanted to close Gitmo? Clue? That was his first action initiated when he took office on his very first day. Still open!

    Have you looked at the national debt lately? It isn't doing so good. Have you looked at Illinois debt lately? It isn't doing so good either. Both are controlled by Democrats. Hate to break this to you, but Obama wrote yet another check that he can't cash.

    Lets look at some of the "other projects" put forth by your friendly Democrats. The new I-74 bridge. A Democrat idea and no money to pay for it. The new Western Illinois campus in Moline. Another Democrat idea that the state can't afford. I could keep naming more and more but you would continue to blame the Republicans for Democrat spending problems.

    Thanks again for the laugh! You made my day (again). Too easy my liberal friend.
  10. senor citizen
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    senor citizen - September 05, 2013 2:09 pm
    Sorry, this was not a GOP or Democrat plan, it was the plan of crooked Illinois politicians. In Illinois there are no honest politicians of either party,
  11. longjohn412
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    longjohn412 - September 05, 2013 1:19 pm
    When are we going to get this REPUBLICAN RED INK off the books in Illinois?

    The MORONS built a prison using their favorite donator/contractors that the state simply DID NOT NEED .... And ripped off the village of Thomson for millions for a sewer/water plant they DID NOT NEED ....

    And now they are trying to desperately stop anyone from fixing THEIR MISTAKES
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