Quinn: Jobs at risk unless capital program approved

June 6, 2011 4:33:44 PM PDT
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn wants lawmakers to return to Springfield for a special session.

He says 52,000 people could lose their jobs if lawmakers do not approve spending for the state's capital construction program.

Illinois lawmakers adjourned their regular session last week with some major unfinished business.

They did not re-authorize their highly-touted 2009 jobs bill, putting tens of thousands of Illinois workers at risk.

Construction crews helping rebuild Chicago's Wacker Drive are among 52,000 workers Governor Quinn says could lose their jobs if Illinois lawmakers do not re-authorize the state's capital program.

"If action is not taken, beginning on the 17th of June - that's a week from this Friday - we will begin the process of having to shut down these projects," said Quinn.

The governor signed the historic $31 billion capital bill two summers ago. While the money raised by bond issues and tax increases is set aside, to spend it requires action each year by the general assembly.

The fiscal 2012 authorization became bogged down after majority Senate Democrats tried to attach new spending to it.

"Unfortunately, the Senate Democrats chose that bill to leverage an extra half billion dollars into the budget, and that's a half billion dollars, frankly, the taxpayers can't afford, because the budget that passed already spends more money than we're gonna take in," said State Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine).

The Democratic-controlled House and Senate adjourned last Tuesday night without passing the capital bill, leaving the Illinois public works projects already underway in jeopardy.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross questioned the Democratic governor's leadership.

"The reality is the governor was not engaged in the budget process. I would argue as the governor he should have been he could have taken a more active role in the budget process," said Cross. "He could have taken some leadership in making sure the capital bill passed."

Quinn says he will call Republican as well as Democratic legislative leaders to set a date for a special session. It would have to happen no later than next week to beat the June 17th project shutdown date.

"Politics has no role here," said Quinn. "Our job is to put people to work and keep them on the job."

Republicans say they will support a "clean" re-authorization bill without any additional spending.

A vote during a special session would require a three-fifths, or 60 percent, majority to pass.

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