What’s in the capital bill?
Thursday, May 31, 2018
By Hannah Meisel
* Capital project spending is included in the overall budget bill, HB109. As noted yesterday, $53,775,000 will go to the Quincy Veterans’ Home for capital improvements like piping replacement, and “water quality improvement projects.” It’s not the $245 million the Rauner administration asked for earlier this month, but until a new home can be built, the pipes need replacing at the very least.
We hear Quincy money was a bit of a trade for the $172 million included in the budget for improvements necessary to build the Obama Presidential Library in Jackson Park. Some of that money will go to various improvements, but a bulk will go toward building a new Metra station at 59th Street.
* What else?
- $400 million in deferred maintenance. Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) told me last night that there had to be an increase in deferred maintenance “…because we’ve had no capital for so long in a budget impasse,” she said. “There’s a lot of built-up emergency needs.”
- Speaking of emergencies, there’s also $100 million for statewide emergency spending.
- $75 million for higher education facilities and emergency projects.
- $30 million for improvements on the coliseum on the State Fairgrounds in Springfield. You may recall that a few years ago it closed because some of the beams inside were threatening to fall.
- HB109 also reinstates appropriation authority for all DCEO community grants, which have not had any appropriation authority since 2015.
- $29 million increase in OSLAD grant funding.
- The bill also contains $8.8 billion in IDOT capital re-appropriations for projects put on hold during the budget impasse.
- $2.9 billion in IDOT pay-as-you-go capital, including $2.2 billion for IDOT’s FY2019 road program.
- $50 million for high-speed rail projects and maintenance.
* Oh, and the Thompson Center? The budget does rely on $270 million in savings from a potential sale of the building. The $270 million figure comes from an early estimation of the land’s worth. Other estimations have been lower, but the budgeteers say it’s actually a conservative estimate, given recent upticks in value of real estate around that area.
Sen. Steans couldn’t tell reporters when Gov. Rauner would receive the bill for selling the Thompson Center, but did say Rauner probably won’t be waiting all the way until November.
Of course, there are still major snags that would need to be worked out, like the Blue Line stop underneath the Thompson Center and other zoning. When reporter Brian Mackey pointed that out a few days ago, Steans and other Democrats said that savings which won’t actually be realized wouldn’t be included in the budget. “That’s why I think it will be [real] because we’re going to send him the bill.”
As for the issues that need to be resolved: “We believe it needs to go through the regular city of Chicago process,” Steans said.
Guess we’ll see what happens there.