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July 28, 2006

36th District Stuff, Part Two...

I had high hopes for the post entitled "36th District Stuff" (below) when I broke it from an earlier comment string. It started with people needling James Beals about whether he had a job and what it was. Mr. Beals responded in civil fashion, and a more or less civil discussion followed for a time.

"Less civil" won out, despite appeals from the better class of commenters. I knew the battle was lost when "Values Matter"'s request for grown-up discussion immediately drew a response that began "No, this is fun..." and continued with a junior high round of name-calling insults, aimed in this case at Sen. Mike Jacobs but typical of what first Mr. Beals and now both men are catching.

Mr. Beals has hung in gamely, answering hard-put questions about himself and even coming to the defense of Sen. Jacobs. If Sen. Jacobs is participating in the discussion, he's doing so anonymously. But I assume he's sick of it all, as Mr. Beals clearly is. And as I am.

So we're going to try again. It's to be a discussion for the grown-ups. Those half-dozen or so commenters who are utterly determined to drive every discussion into the gutter are going to have to go somewhere else -- start their own blog if they want. There, they can can say whatever they want to about Mr. Beals or Sen. Jacobs or me. But they're going to have to have their "fun" somewhere else.

Good-bye guys.

For the rest of you -- let's talk first of a Western Illinois University campus in the Quad-Cites, which is at the top of just about everyone's to-do list.

The next step revolves around $14 million or so in state money that's included in a bill to be voted on this fall. On the plus side, the bill's got money for a lot of things a lot of people all around the state want. On the minus side is the uncertain answer to the question: Where's the money coming from?

A similar something-for-everyone bill passed into law during the George Ryan administration did a lot of good for a places (among other things, the Q-C got a new Rock River bridge out of it). But it also contributed to the state debt that leaves a lot of people wary of a repeat. The money's got to come from somewhere, sooner or later.

So what next?

Posted by jcb at July 28, 2006 11:54 PM


Thank you, John, for your decisive actions to take this discussion to a higher level. Putting a stop to a forum that can become character assassination is a worthy effort.

The WIU-QC Riverfront Campus is poised for action, but much hinges on passage of a capital bill. Illinois hasn't passed a capital bill in 3 or 4 years. Our QC legislative team -- especially Mike Jacobs & Pat Verschoore -- worked hard and successfully got $14 million included in the capital bill. That would fund "phase 2" of the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus.

As you know, we enjoyed a first-round victory when the Governor visited the WIU campus in early Feb to announce he was releasing $2.4 million, phase one of the project.

You raise an excellent question: where will the money come from? I wish everyone in Springfield was more adept at asking that question. In a $55 billion budget, the QC needs a total of about $60 million to build this campus. The regional argument is that once the state invests the funds, we'll have a return on the dollar by way of new businesses on the riverfront, new construction, new students, new staff, new courses that help regional businesses, new success at keeping young people in the area, new help in our battle to compete in the global economy.

If the state invests in our area, in making our area "smarter," we'll help our kids prepare for the global economy and the "flat" world that faces them.

So if the state invests the dollars, the state treasury will receive a strong return on their state investment in years to come. That's a strong argument for moving as rapidly as we can.

Posted by: values matter at July 29, 2006 11:22 AM

VM -- The benefits of a four-year state school in the Quad-Cities are pretty easy to see; if the soundness of the idea was the only issue, there'd be construction crews at work.

If I understand it correctly, the challenge in Springfield this fall is to round up a three-fifths majority of legislators to vote "yes" on a capital budget bill -- a $3 billion version of which was rejected during the last session.

The super-majority is required because bonds would be issued to provide the money; Republican votes are needed to get the super-majority; Republicans so far have been opposed because, they say, of that nasty "where's the money coming from" question.

Rep. Jerry Mitchell, a sterling Republican, told the D/A earlier that he wants to see the Quad-Cities campus expand, but wouldn't vote for a capital bond program when it wasn't clear how the state planned to pay off the debt in the long run.

So where does the money for the bond payments come from?

Adding to the trickiness of the operation is the fact that the fall session will occur after the election; that is, a lame-duck legislature will make the decision.

Will the fact that the vote is taken immediately after the election instead of just before it change votes?

Will the contents of the bill have to be re-structured, to include more Republican-district projects?

You see any hope at all?

Posted by: jcb at July 29, 2006 11:44 PM

Here's some interesting information concerning the condition of Illinois' financial health. As of '05, Illinois has a 3 billion deficit and an overall negative net worth of 17.5 billion----both the worst in the nation by far.

With Democrats firmly in control of both the legislature and executive, it will be interesting to see if and how they take this information into consideration.

Posted by: paladin at July 30, 2006 11:51 AM

John -

You raise valid issues about the financial considerations of moving forward with a capital bill. Realistically speaking, I would agree with your suggestion that the bill may need to be restructured to please a few more Republicans to gain the super majority needed to pass the measure.

Posted by: values matter at July 30, 2006 04:38 PM