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Quinn sets road work funding deadline

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CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn told top lawmakers today that they have until Friday to extend the state's $31 billion construction plan, or road work will come to a halt Monday.

By Benjamin Yount

CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn told top lawmakers today that they have until Friday to extend the state's $31 billion construction plan, or road work will come to a halt Monday.

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said that if lawmakers cannot agree on the construction spending, his office would "start the wheels turning" to stop work across Illinois.

Quinn's deadline could disappoint Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and his fellow Democrats, who wanted to tie $430 million in extra spending to the reauthorization of the multi-billion dollar road, bridge and school building program. Cullerton, who pushed for the extra spending on the last day of the spring session, left Wednesday's meeting without speaking to reporters.

However, Quinn spokeswoman Mica Mattsoff said the governor wants to address the construction plan immediately — lawmakers can fight about the extra spending in November's fall veto session.

"The plan is 12 months (of construction funding) with no conditions," said Mattsoff.

Mattsoff would not say if Quinn supports the Senate Democrat’s budget priorities. Senate Democrats described the $33.2 billion budget crafted by Democrats and Republicans in the House as being too meager. They want to spend extra cash on education and human services.

But adding anything to the budget, which is sitting on Quinn's desk, will be tough, said House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Kendall.

"We like the $33.2 billion (budget)," said Cross. "… It finally, for the first time in nine years, has a limit on what we spend."

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, has said she wants to spend even less than the House budget, and Democrats should not expect any support to spend more than $33 billion.

"It is not reasonable to suspend (the construction program) for a half a billion dollars of unrelated spending," said Radogno.

Radogno and Cross on Wednesday said they support a vote on the construction program next week, but they had to speak with rank-and-file lawmakers first for their position.

Democratic legislative leaders said late Wednesday that they would call lawmakers back for regular session next Wednesday, eliminating the need for a special session order from Quinn.  Each day of special session would cost taxpayers nearly $50,000 if all lawmakers attend.

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