Court: Illinois construction plan unconstitutional

January 26, 2011

Download Story

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn plans to appeal a court ruling striking down a $31 billion dollar statewide construction plan.

The appellate court ruling, issued Wednesday, said the construction plan, which is meant to pay for big roads, bridge and school projects, is unconstitutional. The court wrote that the legislation violated the "single subject" clause of the Illinois Constitution, which requires bills be  "confined to one subject."

The construction projects were slated to be funded - in part - through video gaming, and boosted taxes on candy, grooming products and liquor. In a unanimous decision, the three member appellate panel found the legislation to be too broad.

The suit was filed by Rocky Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and a beverage distributor, who objected to the liquor taxes.

“This lawsuit was always about how the legislature passed this bill and the discriminatory tax on wine and spirits," Julia Sznewajs, a spokeperson for Wirtz Beverage Illinois, wrote in a statement. "The decision affirms that and we are gratified by it."

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Robyn Zeigler, said in an email that the state will ask the Illinois Supreme Court for an immediate stay of the decision. That will be filed Thursday, Zeigler said.

Governor Quinn used the capital bill as a major plank on his re-election campaign last year. His office issued a statement Wednesday claiming that the law has already put thousands of Illinoisans back to work.

"While the administration’s request for a stay is pending with the Illinois Supreme Court, capital projects already in progress will continue as scheduled," the Governor's office said.

Likewise, the appellate court's ruling does not mean collection of the related taxes must immediately stop.

Quinn's spokesperson, Brie Callahan, said that until the Supreme Court rules on the request for a stay, "we're maintaining the status quo."