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Righter hit by far right over funding to replace ancient HVAC systems

Wednesday, Jul 12, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Illinois Policy Institute’s Austin Berg writing in the Decatur Herald & Review

The 2011 tax hikes passed on a straight party-line vote, with Democrat majorities in both chambers and a Democrat in the governor’s seat.

This time, 15 House Republicans rolled over for Madigan, allowing him to protect vulnerable Democrats. A lone Republican cast a “yes” vote on Madigan’s tax hike in the Senate, Dale Righter of Mattoon. Righter’s was the deciding vote that sent the tax hike to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. He was also the deciding vote to override the governor’s veto.

Analysis of the House’s last-minute amendment to the budget revealed Righter was showered with $4.8 million in earmarks for his district.

Madigan wins again.

* From Dan Proft’s East Central Reporter newspaper

State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) made a trade.

He’d cast the decisive vote and give the Chicago Democrats what they wanted– large individual and business income tax hikes and a $700 million bailout for Chicago’s bankrupt public schools– if they would just agree to send a few more state dollars to his district.

And so it was.

Page 508 of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s 638-page budget lays out the $4,757,100 that Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston will receive “for remodeling of the HVAC in the Life Science Building and Coleman Hall.”

EIU will also get $59,282 “for upgrading the electrical distribution system” and and $10,790 “for renovating and expanding the (EIU) Fine Arts Center.”

All told, Righter received a little less than $5 million for EIU. And his vote will result in $5 billion more in tax dollars sent to Springfield from voters in his district and across the rest of Illinois.

* From the university’s website

This project was originally appropriated in FY 2010 but is not yet funded. This request is to recognize the inflation needs for the project from the original request date.

The HVAC systems in the Life Science building (1963), the Life Science Annex building (1964), the Coleman Hall East building (1965) and the Coleman Hall West building (1968) are original equipment and are failing to provide adequate levels of comfort in seasonal service. Air handling units that fail to deliver acceptable indoor air quality compromise the normal delivery of education to our students. In addition, poor temperature control and air delivery are energy inefficient. Also, the building heating and chilled water distribution systems have experienced numerous leaks due to internal and external corrosion and thinning of pipe wall thickness. The deterioration has made the piping systems virtually impossible to repair due to insufficient pipe material remaining to thread. During the past several leak events, faculty offices had to be evacuated and important academic work interrupted. In the event of longer - term system outages, research occurring in the Life Sciences complex could be compromised. The building infrastructure requires an entire mechanical upgrade. [Emphasis added.]

Those HVAC systems are almost as old as I am.


  1. - A guy - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:35 pm:

    ==Those HVAC systems are almost as old as I am.==

    Better hope no one audits or fact checks this one. lol They heat the main building with fire. Now that’s getting closer to your age! lol just kiddin’

  2. - Montrose - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    I am sure Righter will invite Madigan to the ribbon cutting for the HVAC system.

  3. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    Will these “stories” that Berg and Proft spin now be part and parcel of the IPIes’ strategy now entrenched in the Executive branch of Illinois government? Will the Dem candidates pick up on the facts left out of the spin doctoring and get the real facts out front and center quickly to counter? Will Righter set the record right? Will local TV, radio, and print investigate to see if IPI and Proft are correct in their assertions? If the first question is allowed to stand unanswered, then Rauner wins. Does he deserve to?

  4. - MSIX - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    Righter did exactly what he’s supposed to do. He acted in the best interest of his district. Is IPI advocating that senators and reps *not* act in the best interest of their districts?

    When is Rauner going to act in the best interest his state?

  5. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    Yes the HVAC systems needed to be replaced with newer equipment. The new equipment will use less energy.

    I do not think that the state budget should operate at that level of detail. You need detail in developing the budget request, but there should some flexibility in spending it.

  6. - Anonnin - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    Ok, but then why was that approp shoved in at the eleventh hour before getting out of the House?

  7. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    === Righter did exactly what he’s supposed to do. He acted in the best interest of his district. Is IPI advocating that senators and reps *not* act in the best interest of their districts? ===

    Yes. IPI expects solons to act in the best interest of IPI’s funders.

  8. - Shake - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    Think Righter Will Have An Opponent In 2018?

  9. - Tough Guy - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    What a rascal that Senator Righter is. How dare he represent the best interests of his district. I wish we had someone like that in the 95th House.

  10. - Markus - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:44 pm:


    Please let him in that bunker you’re building. Maybe that HVAC contractor will cut you a deal. /s

  11. - jim - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:45 pm:

    so the story is false?
    Righter didn’t get the goodies in exchange for his vote. It was going to happen however he voted?
    Or did he insist on the goodies in exchange for his vote? if he did, it’s not a question of whether eiu needed the money, but whether righter did the right thing in trading his vote for it. opinions will differ on that.

  12. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:45 pm:

    Allowing the physical plant of a major state institution to crumble benefits who, exactly?

    Surely it doesn’t benefit the taxpayers, who own it because it always costs more to delay these things than to fix them on a regular schedule of capital maintenance.

    See? That’s one key difference between the simulator and the real world.

  13. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    Shake, Righter’s not up again until 2020.

  14. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    That HVAC was going to have to be replaced; eventually the state was going to pay that. Tagging Righter with the cost is just wrong. Unless the plan was to close the university…

  15. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    HVAC system on the fritz? This a priority over staffing? Welcome to the new normal at the flailing universities that Bruce and Company have created…leave Dale alone…his hands were so tied…

  16. - Rabid - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    Cooling towers are pigeon waters for legionnaire

  17. - Name Withheld - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:53 pm:

    The problem with Righter is that he was perceived to have been purchased as part of the Illinois Republican Party M&A that occurred back in 2014, when clearly that purchase wasn’t as complete as previously believed.

    One doesn’t expect one’s property to rebel like that. If it were allowed to continue, others might get the same idea. Best to start taking care of it now before he infects others.

  18. - anon20 - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:53 pm:

    Berg’s a lot of things. He ain’t far right.

  19. - Passive Agressive - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:54 pm:

    Kudos to Dale Righter for taking one of the most courageous votes in the history of the Illinois General Assembly. To those on the far right that think the state could simply cut its way out of this fiscal crisis, get a grip on reality. It was well known all along that a combination of additional revenues and cuts would be necessary.

  20. - Jane A. - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:57 pm:

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but why, oh why do the Dems not have a disciplined communications team disguised as a policy think tank to counter (or even get ahead of) the infuriating opinions put out by IPI and Proft?

    It seems like the DGA–or someone–ought to hire some bright young things anxious to make their mark in crafting messages for the media.

    Why should Dem messaging depend on candidates for Governor?

  21. - Grandpa - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:57 pm:

    If the State of Illinois had been doing its duty those systems would have been updated over the past 50 years. I don’t see Righter as doing anything wrong in getting the state to do what should have done over the decades. It is a shame that a Senator has to work out deals to get the state to do its job.

  22. - kitty - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    Senator Righter, I’ve been a critic, but thank you for having the courage to do what was right for your constituents. Bruce Rauner and the IPI demonstrated they were willing to destroy EIU and relegate the State to fiscal junk status in support of non budget agenda items for which there is no mandate.

  23. - blue dog dem - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:06 pm:

    “We need term limits”. Except my guy. He’s just doing what’s in the best interest of his district.

  24. - OpenYourEyes - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:09 pm:

    What? You mean he represented his district and gained funding in the best interest of his constituents? Say it isn’t so

  25. - CP - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:12 pm:

    Good for Sentor Righter,
    Him being an adjunct professor at EIU, he probably knew they really needed the money for salaries.

  26. - jim - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:13 pm:

    “Kudos to Dale Righter for taking one of the most courageous votes in the history of the Illinois General Assembly.”
    it doesn’t take courage to trade a vote for goodies. it’s pretty standard political tradecraft

  27. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:16 pm:

    ===I am sure Righter will invite Madigan to the ribbon cutting for the HVAC system===

    Can’t invite Rauner.

    “Rauner vetoed that”

    Lots and lots of things Rauner won’t get to go to…

    “Rauner vetoed that”

  28. - Smitty Irving - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:18 pm:

    Last Bull Moose -
    “I do not think that the state budget should operate at that level of detail.”
    With CDB that is standard procedure.

  29. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:19 pm:

    I’m with Righter, all day.

    Righter voted for his district and for EIU and all state universities when the Raunerites were willing to close as many as the could.

    I’m glad Proft and his “news”paper has the best interest of the region at heart, so much so, a 2010 approx that never happened, but is happening now is far more consequential than understanding the region’s economic engine was saved.

    Good on Sen. Righter.

    Oswego Willy

  30. - Juice - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:32 pm:

    SB 2166 is the Governor’s introduced capital appropriations. On page 208, you will see that these projects, for these amounts, were included in that package.

    So Bruce Rauner introduced appropriations for projects in Senator Righter’s district because…Madigan?

  31. - Rauner hates public universities - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:33 pm:

    Since the enacted budget was less than the governor’s request wasn’t this item already included?

    Oh that’s right the governor is trying to destroy public universities, I forgot

  32. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    The autodafe is in full swing. The new regime doesn’t seem too interested in 60/30 or 50%+1.

    It should be noted that Proft will soon hold a reunion of all his 2010 GOP primary supporters when he can find an appropriate venue.

    Phonebooths are few and far between these days.

  33. - Michael Westen - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:41 pm:

    Righter’s right. Profit is wrong. Another phony charge by his phony newspaper.

  34. - up2now - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    I guess if Eastern would have had to shut down, there would be no need for HVAC upgrades and other things.

  35. - More Courage - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 2:59 pm:

    Sounds like he is taking some heat.

  36. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:07 pm:

    Sounds like Righter was doing his job.

  37. - Rauner hates public universities - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:08 pm:

    or left out in the cold

  38. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:13 pm:

    say doesnt Eastern serve a large chunck of Rauners base? well their kids….

  39. - help - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 3:53 pm:

    Has anyone provided an explanation as to why this was added at the eleventh hour, then?

  40. - Juice - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    help, it wasn’t.

    It was in Rauner’s introduced budget.

  41. - help - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:19 pm:


    Mind providing a page #? Also was wondering if this was actually only for HVAC? Seems like it was also for a fine arts center …

  42. - Steve Rogers - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    just out of curiosity, how much in earmarks went to senate district where R’s voted no. Really, the amount going to Righter’s district means nothing without comparisons.

  43. - Nobody - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    ==Those HVAC systems are almost as old as I am.==
    And you’ve been re-plumbed already.

  44. - Juice - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:24 pm:


    Page 208

  45. - enoughalready - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:26 pm:

    So now the HVAC systems will be in good working order when Rauner shuts down EIU.

  46. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:33 pm:

    =Sounds like he is taking some heat.=


  47. - Elliott Ness - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 4:43 pm:

    Dale Righteris a thoughtful compassionate, yet very conservative Senator with the best interest of his constituents at heart. Dan Proft is…well, ……….fill in the blank. Would ALWAYS pick Dale Righter’s over Proft to make the best decisions given difficult choices, ALWAYS.

  48. - filmmaker prof - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 5:32 pm:

    Is the permanent 10% cut in state funding to Eastern (and all other Illinois higher ed) part of his payoff? Or did Proft “accidentally” overlook that?

  49. - Winnin' - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 7:15 pm:

    Hard to feel any sympathy for Dale Righter. He has acted like an IPI subordinate for so long and has verbally abused many for their actions.

  50. - Blue dog dem - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 9:03 pm:

    When i went to college there was no A/C.

  51. - tunes - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 9:57 pm:

    Thank You Sen. Righter for saving my alma mater from destruction by the Raunerites. EIU has needed these CDB upgrades for years. Thanks again, for voting for your constituents and not for “the party.” Rauner is causing me to “switch parties” in Illinois.

  52. - Oswego billy - Wednesday, Jul 12, 17 @ 10:21 pm:

    Read the “East Central Reporter” piece.

    Hard to argue with EIU performance. The numbers are the numbers.

    Maybe higher tuition actually does deter students from attending.

  53. - East Central Illinois - Thursday, Jul 13, 17 @ 8:48 am:

    Many thanks to Senator Righter on a very tough vote for him. He stepped up and made the right decision.

    As far as the “East Central Reporter” being a credible ‘news’ source . . . nah, not even close.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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