Illinois Senate Democrats say they will go along with a plan to avoid Gov. Pat Quinn's threatened shutdown of summer construction projects.
That means lawmakers will return to Springfield on Wednesday to keep millions of dollars worth of school, road and sewer projects going.
"The fact is that the capital (construction) bill is going to move forward and people will continue to work and build bridges and school," said Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, who serves as an appropriations chairman.
Quinn had given lawmakers until Friday to come to an agreement or said he would be forced to begin shutting down work sites early next week.
At issue is legislation that gives Quinn the authority to spend money in the state’s construction fund, which must be passed every year. The bill did not get to Quinn’s desk because Senate Democrats tacked on an additional $431 million in spending for education and social services, which the House rejected.
Quinn argued that meant he would have to suspend construction work. But House lawmakers rejected that notion, saying they already gave the governor special powers to spend money through the fall. Critics contended that Quinn was creating a “manufactured crisis” to help him and Senate Democrats squeeze extra money into the budget lawmakers approved.
On Wednesday, Quinn said that jobs take precedent, and said lawmakers should pass a “clean” construction program without the extra spending. He said lawmakers can return in the fall to address Senate Democrats’ concerns about budget cuts.
Senate President John Cullerton echoed that today, saying the "state's construction program should continue uninterrupted" but that there is still work to be done on the budget.
"There are still major structural deficiencies in the House budget that will become clear in the months ahead. I look forward to having the opportunity to address issues such as the underfunding of education and social service commitments," Cullerton said in a statement.
Transportation committee chairman Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, said it was good news that jackhammers will continue to sound throughout the state.
"This is about jobs and pushing the unemployment numbers down," Sandoval said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times