WBEZ | capital bill http://www.wbez.org/tags/capital-bill Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Supreme Court rules on $31 billion capital bill http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-rules-31-billion-capital-bill-88954 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-11/AP110516035695.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 11:58 a.m. </em></p><p>Illinois' Supreme Court has ruled that a statewide construction program is constitutional. This reverses an appellate court ruling that threw the $31 billion-plan into doubt.</p><p>The appeals court's decision in January no doubt caused stress headaches for the governor, lawmakers and everyone with a job dependent on the construction plan. That court found that the bill violated a clause of the state Constitution that requires legislation be "confined to one subject."</p><p>But in the state Supreme Court's much anticipated final word on the legislation, all seven justices sided with Gov. Pat Quinn and the bipartisan leadership in the legislature, which endorsed the plan.</p><p>Justice Anne Burke wrote that "capital projects" - including those for roads, schools and bridges - is a "legitimate single subject." She wrote that the rest of the bill - including new taxes and expanded video gambling to pay for the projects - have a "natural and logical connection to that subject."</p><p>The suit was brought by Rocky Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and a liquor distribution company. Wirtz objected to the new taxes on liquor used to finance the construction projects, many of which are already in progress.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jul 2011 13:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-rules-31-billion-capital-bill-88954 Unfinished business calls lawmakers back to Springfield http://www.wbez.org/story/unfinished-business-calls-lawmakers-back-springfield-88163 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-21/Quinn_Alex Keefe.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>State lawmakers return to Springfield today for unfinished business.</p><p>The first item on their agenda is a list of construction projects that stalled last month due to budget wrangling between the House and Senate. Road projects and school building improvements will continue as planned once lawmakers approve the spending provision. They adjourned without signing off on the annual capital program.</p><p>"Things like upgrading roads and bridges to upgrading state facilities, classroom spaces. It's really a variety of projects," Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson said of the capital program.</p><p>Lawmakers also are expected to vote themselves a pay cut for the third year in a row. They'll likely be taking one furlough day per month. That bill didn't get a full hearing in the House before adjournment.</p><p>Lawmakers will pay for their trips to Springfield out of their own pockets. They won't be receiving their usual $100 per-day expense checks, which cover the cost of travel and overnight accommodations on regular session days.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 22 Jun 2011 14:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/unfinished-business-calls-lawmakers-back-springfield-88163 Illinois high court hears arguments over massive construction bill http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-high-court-hears-arguments-over-massive-construction-bill-86689 <p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court will decide the fate of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects.</p><p>Chicago Blackhawks owner and liquor distributor Rocky Wirtz sued the state over the way it was paying for a $31 billion construction program. Lawmakers legalized video poker, upped liquor taxes and imposed new vehicle fees to help pay for the statewide program.</p><p>Wirtz argues the package violated a requirement in the state constitution that says laws be confined to one subject. But Assistant Attorney General Richard Huszagh says funding construction is the one common subject.</p><p>"Chicago architect Dan Burnham famously once said, 'Make no little plans.'&nbsp; The plaintiff's approach to the single subject clause appears to be the opposite - that the General Assembly can only make little plans," Huszagh said.</p><p>The entire infrastructure program is now in limbo. If the court sides with Wirtz, legislators may be asked to quickly re-approve separate funding components. Meanwhile, the state has already collected more than $480 million in new fees to pay for the capital bill. More than $72 million in higher liquor taxes have been funneled into a "protest fund," pending the outcome of the case, but it is still unclear what will happen to the rest of the money if justices strike down the law.</p><p>The Supreme Court could hand down a decision at any time.</p></p> Wed, 18 May 2011 12:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-high-court-hears-arguments-over-massive-construction-bill-86689 Illinois can keep collecting taxes for troubled capital bill http://www.wbez.org/story/capital-bill/illinois-can-keep-collecting-taxes-troubled-capital-bill <p><p>The State of Illinois can continue collecting taxes for a $31 billion capital plan, even though the constitutionality of the bill is in question. In a motion filed Friday with the state Supreme&nbsp;Court, attorneys challenging the capital bill wrote that they do not object to the continuing funding of the bill while its legality is worked out in the court system.</p><p>Last week, the Illinois Appellate court deemed the capital bill unconstitutional. The judges said the capital bill violates a part of the state constitution that prohibits a single bill from dealing with more than one subject. The appeals court wrote that some provisions of the capital spending plan - including the higher taxes and fees - had no &quot;natural and logical connection&quot; to the projects they were supposed to fund.</p><p>Attorneys for Wirtz Beverage Illinois, LLC and Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, are challenging the legality of the capital bill. Legislators agreed to expand video gambling as one way to pay for the $31 billion worth of construction projects.</p><p>A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn's office said last week the state has already raked in $425 million in higher fees to pay for the capital bill.</p></p> Mon, 31 Jan 2011 16:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/capital-bill/illinois-can-keep-collecting-taxes-troubled-capital-bill