Southern Illinois legislators discuss capital plan with Gov. Quinn

By Gus Bode

Gov. Pat Quinn’s tour of Illinois brought him to the Stone Center where he met with area legislators to discuss the state’s spring legislative session Friday.

‘We’re in this to help Illinois,’ Quinn said after the meeting. ‘We may be Democrats; we may be Republicans, but the bottom line in this time is the common good.’

Sen. David Luechtefeld said the meeting was focused on how to fund a capital construction plan, which would sponsor road construction and improvements to state-supported facilities. For SIU, a capital plan could mean money to construct the proposed Transportation Education Center at Southern Illinois Airport and pay for the renovation of Morris Library’s unfinished sixth and seventh floors.


Illinois has not approved a capital plan since former Gov. George Ryan was in office, which made it a much-debated item in the legislature last year.

Quinn said he has urged the federal government to approve a stimulus plan that could pump billions of dollars into Illinois’ budget. Pending its passage in the U.S. Senate Tuesday, the stimulus plan could be sent to the House later this week.

The federal government would also release $9 billion separate from the stimulus plan to Illinois if the state can match that amount. But scraping together that $9 billion has been a challenge for state legislators.

Rep. John Bradley, a Marion Democrat who was absent from Friday’s meeting, has introduced a bill that would raise the state’s gas tax by eight cents per gallon in order to raise money for the capital plan.

‘It’s not a very big bill,’ Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said of Bradley’s gas tax proposal. Luechtefeld said the bill would raise enough money for road construction but nothing else.

Quinn said after the meeting he thinks the people of Illinois would willingly pay higher income taxes to fund the capital plan.

‘We’re in a democracy,’ Quinn said. ‘When you’re in democracy, people say to themselves, ‘We don’t like paying taxes, but we will because we believe in a government of the people.’


The governor’s visit drew praise from the area legislators, such as Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, who began his political career as an aide to then-Treasurer Quinn.

Rep. Mike Bost said Quinn has reached out to Republicans and has been positive about working in a bipartisan manner.

‘Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional,’ he said. ‘We will have conflict. We will be working together to resolve those conflicts, but we are way passed the combat.’

Associated Press reports were used to complete this story.

Daily Egyptian reporter Barton Lorimor can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263 or [email protected]