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Quinn’s project announcements total about $800 million just this month

Friday, Oct 29, 2010

* That’s a lot of cabbage

As Gov. Pat Quinn heads toward a showdown at the polls Tuesday against Republican state Sen. Bill Brady, he has spent much of October announcing construction projects he says could create more than 100,000 jobs.

The running total for the amount Quinn has announced in October stands at $472 million, ranging from a new school in Carterville to a new rail station in Moline.

Most of these programs Quinn has “announced” are already on the books, and have been so for more than a year. But the Republicans knew full well that Quinn would use these projects when they agreed to the proposal. Why? Because they’re using them, too. Even Bill Brady has appeared at some ribbon-cutting events, including one at the Bloomington-Normal Amtrak station.

And it’s not just state money the governor is handing out…

In addition to state construction money, Quinn also has highlighted more than $300 million in federal spending heading to Illinois that will pay for projects ranging from the clean-up of the Waukegan harbor to improving passenger rail service in Chicago and northwestern Illinois.

* Chuck Sweeny rode along with Quinn on one of those state money-handout expeditions the other day

Quinn’s campaign operates out of a suite of rooms on the third floor. There’s not much furniture except for desks with papers strewn every which way. Campaign staffers’ names are taped to doors. I figure we’ll begin talking to Quinn when he’s done with his interview and comes inside.

Wrong. From a window we watch Quinn hop into a car and speed away. We are left to talk with Quinn’s key campaign staffers, all of whom seem to be about 25. We learn that the governor has gone to his offices on the 16th floor of the Helmut-Jahns designed James R. Thompson Centre at LaSalle and Randolph, for a meeting. We’ll meet him there in an hour.

The campaign people have fetched bagels and coffee for us. But they won’t be going with us today. Spokeswoman Mica Matsoff explains that we will be traveling with “Governor” Quinn, not “candidate” Quinn, so we’ll be accompanied by the governor’s official staff. Ethics rules require that never the twain shall meet, Mica explains.

Also, I’m thinking that “Governor” Quinn doesn’t have to use money from “candidate” Quinn’s campaign. Today’s trip, which looks a lot like a campaign, will be billed to taxpayers.

Go read the whole thing. It’s a good piece. Chuck learned something most of us who cover Quinn have long understood…

On the road I learn quickly that while I had to coax Brady into talking at length about anything on my road trip with him, rarely today will I get a word in edgewise. Quinn is a filibuster machine.


* Related…

* Southtown: Merry Christmas! Another present right before Election Day

* Quinn Funnels Money to Belvidere Chrysler Plant

* Illinois sets aside $4 million for Embry-Riddle campus

* Belvidere Chrysler Future: Chrysler announced a huge investment to build more vehicles at the Belvidere plant and bump hundreds of part-time workers to full time status.

* Illinois helps secure Belvidere Chrysler plant’s future

* State making huge investment in Belvidere Chrysler plant

* State provides $32M for Joliet transportation hub

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - TimB - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:27 am:

    Meanwhile, school districts all over the state continue to wait on long overdue payments. Along with Medical providers, and many other vendors. Nothing like using the voters own dollars to buy the voters votes.

  2. - DzNuts - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:30 am:

    If my rural public school math skills are accurate, the $800M for 100,000 jobs comes out to about $8,000 taxpayer cost for one job. Granted, there’s a multiplier effect on the economy but that seems like a hight cost per job created. If Quinn and the HDems lose control in November, I can’t wait to see what the supplemental approp bill will include.

  3. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:34 am:


    It is way more sexy to have a new high speed rail system that nobody will use and need taxpayer subsidies forever than to pay the bills on your previous commitments. Surely you know that!

  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:37 am:

    DzNuts, I think your math is off. That appears to only includes the state projects, not the federal stuff.

  5. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:45 am:

    The school in carterville was already build. They plan to use the money to pay down some of the debt. Nobody bought his ploy down there.

  6. - TimB - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:47 am:


    Sorry, I forgot! Not to mention that this allows Quinn to travel all over the state, just three days before election, making public appearances on the voter’s dime. (see Chuck Sweeny’s comments above)

  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:47 am:

    Don’t believe the hype with multipliers. It’s’ like crowd estimates. Those doing it pretend there’s science behind it, but it’s just WAGs.

  8. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:47 am:

    its a lot of crappage is what it is. empty promises and perniciously cynical attempt to buy votes, nakedly opportunistic and doomed to failure. announcements=campaigning. Cash=King.

  9. - Fed up - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:47 am:

    Ethics rules require never the twain shall meet. Unless Quinn is making a deal with asfcme that costs the state millions in exchange for an endorsement.

  10. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:51 am:

    - announcements=campaigning -

    So that goes for the ribbon-cutting events Bill Brady is attending also, right?

  11. - shore - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:51 am:

    Republicans did the same thing during the bush administration. During the bush years in even years every single cabinet secretary was ordered by the political office to go to competitive districts to campaign with endangered incumbents, so this is not new. so brady can call quinn rovian, I guess.

  12. - Richard Afflis - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:57 am:

    What is your problem with this? Can’t someone conduct official business without people reading into it? Ribbon cuttings and project announcements, that’s what governors do:)

  13. - Honest Abe - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 10:58 am:

    The pandering that Quinn has engaged in since in the primary and the general election campaign has unmasked him as another cynical politician. The “populist” approach that he has labored to maintain for years was nothing more than a ruse.

  14. - Honest Abe - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:00 am:

    I need to proofread.

    The pandering that Quinn has engaged in during the primary campaign and the general election campaign has unmasked him as another cynical politician. The “populist” approach that he has labored to maintain for years was nothing more than a ruse.

  15. - Nick42 - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:00 am:

    Is there a good primer out there for the difference between capital expenditures and operating costs in government budgeting?

    It’d be neat if the Civic Fed or Civic Committee of the Commercial Club would educate those interested in the difference. Clearly there are very interested and very smart people who post comments on this blog who don’t understand it. So it begs the question if even 5% of the state’s resident understands.

  16. - Aldyth - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:02 am:

    Gotta make sure the locals know about local projects just before the election. It’s a time-honored technique.

  17. - Been There - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:03 am:

    ===Quinn’s project announcements total about $800 million just this month===
    A couple of million more and he will catch up with what is being spent by the campaigns.

  18. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:03 am:

    The ribbon-cuttings and announcements are as old as The Republic. You might as well howl at the moon or curse the sun for coming up in the east.

    Probably the best set piece I can remember of leveraging the power of the incumbency was Reagan in 1984. Trip to China, LA Olympics, D-Day Anniversary at Normandy, riding horses with the Queen, the pictures were all spectacular.

  19. - Wow - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:16 am:


    I’m sorry to get off topic, but I have breaking news I need confirmed!

    I just saw a Kirk ad that claims Alexi supports BIKE RACKS! If this is true, it is definitely the most un-American thing to hit the Senate race… Bike racks… This is a game changer.

    I can’t wait for Wednesday. These ads are pathetic.

  20. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:33 am:

    PQ was supposed to be the anti-politician. He told us he was different. He was all about the people, not the pols. We know this because he told us so.

    So many of us wanted it to be true. PQ’s approval ratings were quite high when he was elevated to the gov mansion. He enjoyed the support from many indies, moderates and even some republicans (like me). People who wanted the state to work. His own actions, and inactions, have been his downfall. PQ has NO ONE to blame but himself. His failure to take a stand with leftover Blago employees. We learn later that he can’t afford to let some of them go because they are key to the rainmaking/fundraising. Sounds like old school politics to me. He supports the DOC director despite clear evidence that actions taken were beyond foolish. Mystifying. Now he touts these capitol expense programs and this pie in the sky rapid rail program just in the nick of time for the election. Just what all the rest of the pols would do.

    So, the idea that PQ is some special kind of politician, apart from all the rest of the hordes, is a fantasy. This means we must judge him based on his actions, not his rhetoric. We must look past the wandering prose, the every-man pose, and consider what he has done.

    PQ lost me at the un-fumigate phase. He has been found lacking.

  21. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:36 am:

    hmmmmm, “capitol” expense program should be “capital”…..

  22. - Statewide - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:42 am:

    Good for Quinn for being the Jobs Governor that Brady wishes he could be. Brady and company keep telling us we need a Gov who can help business. Thanks for pointing this out Bill, but take notice we already have one! Brady should focus on his own business on the home front. In my opinion, it looks like his own business over-expanded, over-bought, over-built and now is over-extended. And now he wants to run the state? I don’t see the logic. Quinn is creating jobs already. AP reports:
    (AP) — The Illinois Department of Employment Security is reporting unemployment in the Chicago area fell in September, as it did in all of the state’s metropolitan areas.
    …for the first time since March 2007, Illinois is recording falling unemployment rates in every corner of the state.

  23. - DzNuts - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:50 am:

    I included the federal money in the math equation. Even excluding it, take $472M in state dollars, divide by 100,000 and it’s still $4,720 cost per job. It’s really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. From a strategy standpoint, it would have been better to announce the grants in the summer, then run some positive ads promoting jobs, transportation, schools, etc. The message and frequency of the announcements is so cluttered and saturated now that voters in Rockford aren’t going to remember what he did in Carterville two weeks ago.

  24. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:51 am:

    ===$4,720 cost per job===

    That’s pretty low.

  25. - going nuclear - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 11:53 am:


    You may want to visit the Amtrak departure area at Union Station in Chicago, say around 5pm, before making the statement that nobody will use high-speed passenger rail. State and federal dollars have been used repeatedly to build all types of new transportation infrastructure that the private sector couldn’t, or wouldn’t, fund. This includes canals, airports, the first transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway system. Creating the infrastructure for faster passenger trains will pay dividends over time and benefit all people by providing more travel choices, increasing mobility, improving energy security and reducing pollution.

  26. - 3 beers to springfield - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:02 pm:

    I use passenger rail every chance I get, and I’m not a nobody.

  27. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:05 pm:

    going nuclear,

    You might want to look into how well Amtrak has been doing in recent years. Not profitable. Needs constant infusions of taxpayer subsidies…..just like Cincinnatus said.

  28. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:05 pm:

    My wife hates driving to and from Chicago. The traffic is just too horrific. She takes the train.

  29. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:06 pm:

    ===Needs constant infusions of taxpayer subsidies===

    And sidewalks don’t?

  30. - conda67 - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:11 pm:

    This is all borrowed money and union jobs the working poor get nothing.

  31. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:11 pm:

    going nuclear,

    Of course people use AMTRAK! For each ride taken on AMTRAK, some taxpayer in the US is shelling out on average of over $32 dollars. In 2008, AMTRAK lost money on 41 of its 45 lines, with some lines losing $150 PER PASSENGER.

  32. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:12 pm:

    ===the working poor get nothing. ===

    He says from his Blackberry.

  33. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:13 pm:

    The sidewalk outside my house has been in place for years. The town doesn’t come to me every year to prop it up with additional funds to keep it in operation. So, no, sidewalks don’t need “constant subsidies”.

  34. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:14 pm:

    Cincinnatus, enough with Amtrak. Move along. You’ve made that diversionary point a million times here. Like a sucker, I got dragged in again.

    It’s the Friday before the election. Come up with something new.

  35. - Cincinnatus - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:17 pm:

    Sorry, Rich. Didn’t see your post before hitting the GO button.

  36. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 12:19 pm:

    No prob. Let’s just try to focus a bit on the task at hand.

  37. - soccermom - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 1:01 pm:

    Look. An incumbent has to take responsibility for every mistake, oversight and general screw-up that happens on his/her watch. So it’s fair to take credit for every positive thing that happens as well. And there’s nothing wrong with going out and pushing the positive stories hard. Because heaven knows, the negative ones are going to be pushed hard by the other side.

    It’s tough for a challenger to get incumbent-style ink. But they also don’t have to face incumbent-style criticism.

    I think it evens out.

  38. - Really?? - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 1:02 pm:

    I’m sure all of those human service providers that have been firing staff, reducing services, or closing all together could have thought of a use for that $800 million.

  39. - Montrose - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    TimB, Cincy, Really??

    I know you all realize that the money used for these projects could not be used for paying down bills, right? Capital and operating funds are different pots ‘o money. So, if you are going to critique the capital spending, just do that. Don’t bring up this red herring.

  40. - Really?? - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 2:13 pm:

    The $50 million Governor Quinn is using for the new Neighborhood Recovery Initative (touted as a violence prevention program) is using capital funds? This is a program that is providing funds to local community based organizations to engage youth, offer job training and provide funding for small businesses. I don’t think that’s capital funds.

  41. - jimbo - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 2:22 pm:

    to the first poster: capital projects are paid by bond funds not GRF so yes they will cost money, but they have no effect on our current fiscal situation.

  42. - Joe Blow - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 2:29 pm:

    Of course Quinn is going to spend millions and millions of taxpayer’s money for free publicity right before an election.. He stole the idea out of Blago’s playbook!

  43. - Montrose - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 2:32 pm:

    *I don’t think that’s capital funds.*

    True, but you referenced the full $800 m in your comment.

    I am in complete agreement that we need to focus the available resources on paying providers (and don’t think that $50 million for the neighborhood recovery initiative was good idea), but the vast majority of that $800 million is not available to help providers in need.

  44. - Really?? - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 2:45 pm:

    @Montrose. You are correct, in my initial post I did reference the $800 million. I stand corrected on that point.

  45. - yikes - Friday, Oct 29, 10 @ 3:38 pm:

    How much did it cost me as a taxpayer to pay for all those special state plane flights?

  46. - Cincinnatus - Saturday, Oct 30, 10 @ 9:14 am:


    They are two pots of money only because lawmakers have chosen them as such. Perhaps if the Feds had block-granted to the State, and the State to the locals, some of the outstanding obligations could be paid.

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