SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn says he’s ready to sign legislation that could jump start $675 million in additional road construction projects.
In action Thursday, the Illinois Senate voted 38-15 in favor of a package of additional spending for highway and bridge repairs. The measure also patches holes in other areas of the state’s budget.
The spending blueprint, which was endorsed by the House earlier this week, will allow the state to hire workers to investigate child abuse, as well as put more money toward community mental health programs.
“Our needs are immediate and need to be addressed,” said Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, who sponsored the proposal.
Quinn said lawmakers did the right thing.
“This legislation will allow us to begin construction projects this spring which will put Illinois workers back on the job,” Quinn said in a prepared statement. “In addition, this bill will enable the Department of Children and Family Services to continue its critical mission of protecting vulnerable children who have been abused and neglected.”
Republicans complained the package contained more than $2 billion in spending at a time when the state has billions of dollars in unpaid bills and a massively underfunded pension system.
Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said the addition of a number of “sweeteners” to lure more votes to the proposal were troubling. For example, he said there is money for the financially troubled East St. Louis School District and for construction work at Chicago State University.
The legislation also includes $115,000 to help launch a high school basketball hall of fame in Danville, $1 million to help build a new children’s museum in downtown Springfield and $167,148 for a museum in Rosiclare dedicated to fluorspar mining
Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said Democrats should have worked with Republicans to pare down the legislation.
“I regret that this is the way we’re starting the session,” Brady said.
The legislation is House Bill 190.