Our Word: Capital bill signed

By Gus Bode

It’s official. After more than a decade, months of negotiations and bickering among legislators, public outcry and pleading editorials from newspapers across the state, including this one, Illinois will have a capital bill.

We cannot be anything but pleased: SIU will receive $85.8 million of the $31 billion, and it’s money the university desperately needs. With this funding, university administrators can finish the library (maybe even put books in it), patch up a roof or two and provide adequate classrooms and equipment for the aviation and automotive programs, which have flourished despite neglected facilities. It is great news.

But part of the reason we are so grateful is because we have needed this attention for so long. Springfield has given us what is long overdue, like ignoring a child for the first 10 years of his life and on his 10th birthday, baking him a cake.


Gov. Pat Quinn did the best he could for the university and the state by signing the bill, seeing as a complete operating budget isn’t likely to come out of this stubborn Legislature any time soon. And because Quinn’s proposed income tax increase could be the university’s best hope for funding, we are glad the governor delayed the vote on it until November, when the political climate might be more favorable.

Even as students notice new construction sites sprawling across campus in the coming months, we should not become too complacent. If Illinois lawmakers do not get behind Quinn’s plan or create a miraculous one of their own, the university and the region will face economic devastation on a level we haven’t previously experienced.

So be happy – but be ready. As the buildup to this ‘attaboy’ should indicate, conversations about funding and common sense are almost mutually exclusive in the Illinois statehouse. Let’s hope our elected leaders can keep it together and follow up this capital bill with something even more substantial in the way of financial stability.