The Illinois House yesterday approved about one-point-five billion dollars in extra spending this year. The measure sparked a contentious, partisan debate. Most of the money would be spent on roads and other construction projects. It would also provide an infusion of cash for the state agency that investigates reports of child abuse, and for community providers of mental health care. Some of the money comes from better-than-expected tax collections by state government. But it also comes from savings that followed Governor Pat Quinn's closure of prisons and other state facilities. That was a problem for Republicans. Representative Mike Bost, a Republican from Murphysboro, recounted recent problems in the prisons, including the murder of one inmate by another, and multiple attacks on guards:
"I am telling you what we're using is blood money. Blood money. I want to fix and cure these other problems, but doing this allows more people to die, because we don't stand to the governor on this particular revenue."
Democrats point out that more Republicans supported the spending plan one day earlier, but overnight decided to "make political hay" out of opposing it. The measure now goes to the Illinois Senate.
Support Your Public Radio Station