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Sweet blog extra: Led by Durbin, Illinois lawmakers go nuclear on Blagojevich. Bi-partisan attack on governor.


WASHINGTON---After simmering for months over Gov. Blagojevich's inaction, the two Illinois senators and nine of the 19 House members on Friday unloaded on the governor for risking $6.1 billion in federal money for Illinois transportation projects.

At issue is the need for the state to come up with more than $1 billion in order to trigger the release of the $6.1 billion. The money was part of a big transportation bill Congress passed during the last session, when Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was the speaker.

Blagojevich has been in no hurry to come up with the state match. The theory, perhaps, is that the state should not automatically be obliged to all these expensive projects just because the federal goverment is willing to send in a down payment. These projects, perhaps, could also be held hostage by the governor and used as negotiating fodder.

Anyway, time is running out, the lawmakers said in the letter sent to Blagojevich and the four top state legislative leaders.

"If the State of Illinois does not enact a capital bill and provide the non-federal match this year, as much as $6.1 billion in federal funding could be at risk," the letter said.

to read the letter, click below

Durbin's letter....


[Washington, D.C.]- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today
sent a letter to the Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich and four
legislative leaders, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, House
Republican Leader Tom Cross, President of the Senate Emil Jones, Jr. and
Republican Leader Frank Watson. Durbin was joined by Senator Barack
Obama (D-IL) and other members of the Illinois Congressional delegation
including Representatives Melissa Bean (D-IL), Jerry Costello (D-IL),
Danny Davis (D-IL), Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Ray LaHood
(R-IL), Don Manzullo (R-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and John Shimkus

[text of letter attached and below]

May 25, 2007

The Honorable Rod Blagojevich


Capitol Building

Springfield, IL 62706

The Honorable Michael J. Madigan

Speaker of the House

Capitol Building

Springfield, IL 62706

The Honorable Tom Cross

House Republican Leader

Capitol Building

Springfield, IL 62706

The Honorable Emil Jones, Jr

President of the Senate

Capitol Building

Springfield, IL 62706

The Honorable Frank C. Watson

Republican Leader

Capitol Building

Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Governor Blagojevich, Speaker Madigan, President Jones, and Leaders
Cross and Watson:

In the 109th Congress, we worked together in a bipartisan
manner to provide Illinois with a 33.4 percent per year increase in
federal funding for transportation infrastructure - the largest in the
state's history. SAFETEA (P.L. 109-59) provided the state with the
resources necessary to make significant investments in highway and
transit infrastructure throughout Illinois. We're proud of this
accomplishment and want all of the federal funding set aside for
Illinois to be invested in our state's transportation system.

We understand that the State of Illinois needs to provide as
much as $1.2 billion to complete all of the projects in our state that
are eligible for federal matching funds under P.L. 109-59.

We encourage you to enact state legislation to provide the
needed state match for the federal transportation funds we secured in
2005. If the State of Illinois does not enact a capital bill and
provide the non-federal match this year, as much as $6.1 billion in
federal funding could be at risk.

Our state responded after Congress passed comprehensive
transportation infrastructure legislation in the late 1990s by enacting
Illinois FIRST. That capital bill ensured that all federal funding
secured by the Illinois Congressional Delegation could be spent on
highway and transit projects. In short, thanks to the state match, no
federal funds were left behind.

We hope we can count on you to enact appropriate legislation
that will provide the required state match to the federal funds
available to our state.

We share the mutual goal of helping Illinois secure the
highest return for its tax dollars, and we stand ready to work with you
to that end.



If the state's legislators are of the same mind as our bipartisan congressional delegation, it won't matter too much what Rod thinks. They pass a funding bill with a revenue source, governor vetoes, legislature overrides. Done.

Hastert is a Republican - not (D-IL).

ouch. thanks. i changed it.

Your this article is very good

I think this is an incredibly misleading article.

It ascribes to the Governor a motive - saying he doesn't want a capital bill and has taken no action on it.

Yet, as we discussed on our site a couple months ago, the Governor made a capital bill a big part of the budget. If you actually were paying attention at all over the past 3 months, like most of us who make a living by keeping an eye on Springfield, you will know that he proposed an $11 billion capital budget for all those things Durbin is talking about, plus school construction, the energy plan, roads, other economic development, etc.

He didn't only just propose it, he actually found a way to pay for it. A very un-Springfield thing to do.

And as far as I know, it is still in the budget. The only thing that could stand in the way of a capital bill is all those legislators listed in that letter.

That's why I found this post so confusing and misleading. The legislators seem to be more busy on writing letters than actually voting to pass what they are writing about. Get to work!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 25, 2007 3:20 PM.

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