SPRINGFIELD -- Billions of dollars’ worth of construction projects, including Statehouse renovations and hundreds of road projects throughout the state, will go on as scheduled over the next half a decade after the Illinois Supreme Court on Monday upheld funding for the work.

SPRINGFIELD -- Billions of dollars’ worth of construction projects, including Statehouse renovations and hundreds of road projects throughout the state, will go on as scheduled over the next half a decade after the Illinois Supreme Court on Monday upheld funding for the work.


Dave Heneberry, president of United Constructors, called the court’s decision a relief. His firm is working on renovation of the Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site and has another contract with the Illinois Department of Transportation to renovate the aeronautics department hangar at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.

“We’re very pleased,” he said.

Dozens of construction projects locally, including multimillion-dollar projects at the state Capitol, the Illinois State Fairgrounds and numerous state government office buildings — as well as major road work that’s under way on Interstates 55 and 72, Illinois 4 and 29, and Clear Lake Avenue — could have been disrupted if the justices had ruled differently.

Capital bill constitutional

Illinois’ highest court said Monday the state’s capital plan is constitutional, reversing an earlier ruling by an appellate court that had said the $31 billion capital bill violated the state constitution's single-subject clause. The seven justices, in a decision written by Justice Anne Burke, held that “all of the provisions have a natural and logical connection to the single subject of capital projects.”

“We see no provision in the act which stands out as being constitutionally unrelated to the single subject of capital projects," Burke wrote. “There are no ‘smoking gun’ provisions in Public Act 96-34 (one of the laws that make up the capital plan) which clearly violate the intent and purpose of the single subject rule.”

“In the interest of judicial economy,” the court also tossed out other claims made by Chicago Blackhawks owner and liquor distributor Rocky Wirtz, who brought the lawsuit, that the appellate court did not deal with.

That means the capital plan will be able to go forward without further action from lower courts.

At an unrelated news conference in Chicago, Gov. Pat Quinn called the court’s decision “gratifying.”

“What this means is our job-recovery program can go forward full speed ahead,” Quinn said. “Our state is a state that has always understood the importance of investing in infrastructure, in being builders. I want to be the builder-governor.”

420,000 jobs

Lawmakers passed the six-year construction plan to much fanfare in 2009. Quinn has repeatedly referred to it as a jobs and economic-recovery bill that will create or save 420,000 jobs in Illinois.

To pay for the work, the measure also legalized video poker; raised taxes on liquor, candy, health and beauty aids and non-carbonated beverages; and increased license plate fees. It was the first capital construction plan approved since 1999.

The Supreme Court ruling means lawmakers dodged a potentially sticky political situation. The capital bill passed with bipartisan majorities in 2009 when Democrats had larger legislative majorities and before the rise of the Tea Party and its warning to Republicans that tax increases and more government spending are unacceptable. It also preceded this year’s legislative redistricting law, which throws dozens of lawmakers into unfamiliar political territory.

State Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, who will face thousands of new voters if he runs for re-election next year, acknowledged that reconstituting the capital bill if the justices had ruled against it would have been difficult. That might have meant vastly reducing the number of projects funded by the bill.

“There would have been no guarantee that reintroducing a bill with video poker and a liquor tax would have passed,” Bomke said. “I would have voted for it again. I don’t think you can vacillate. Regardless of what my new voters might think, I would have voted for it.”

Quinn said the state plans to return to circuit court to get $100 million in liquor taxes that sat in escrow while the lawsuit played out.

Chris Wetterich can be reached at (21&) 788-1523.

What’s been raised, what’s been spent

$4 billion: Amount of bonds sold by the state to date to fund construction projects

$162 million: Bonds paid back

$643.8 million: Revenue raised from increased taxes and fees to date

Sources: Governor’s budget office and state comptroller

Estimated capital program revenue by funding source

*Legalizing video poker in places like bars and social clubs: $375 million.

*Turning over day-to-day management of the lottery to a private firm and allowing the sale of lottery tickets online: $150 million.

*Increasing the tax on alcohol: $114 million.

*Extending the sales tax to previously exempt items such as candy, non-carbonated beverages, and health and beauty products: $150 million.

*Increasing vehicle fees: $331 million. Vehicle registration and driver’s license fees increased $20. Titles and commercial licenses went up by $30.


Area projects

Here are the area projects that would have been affected by a shutdown of state construction:

*Sangamon County

Upgrade HVAC state Capitol, $68,863,615.

Abate west quadrant for HVAC Illinois Capitol, $8,616,871.

Replace HVAC, administration building, Illinois State Fairgrounds, $3,950,555.

Chillers, Illinois State Fairgrounds, $3,950,000.

Rehabilitate interior and exterior, Dana-Thomas House, $3,129,025

Upgrade fire alarm system, McFarland Mental Health Center, $2,800,000.

Repair parking ramp, Willard Ice Building, $2,791,000.

Boiler improvements/roof replacement, McFarland Mental Health Center, $2,427,490.

Emergency roof replacement, Motor Vehicle Services Facility, $1,097,065.

Lighting replacement, Howlett Building, $791,000.

Upgrade alarm panels, Capitol, $771,000.

Replace roofing systems, Howlett Building, $662,000.

Roof replacement/exterior repairs warehouse, Camp Lincoln, $570,950.

HVAC repairs, ceiling replacement, asbestos abatement, Stratton Office Building, $526,019.

Replace motor control centers, Hanley Building, $492,000.

Repair administration building water damage, Illinois State Fairgrounds, $415,119.

Replace roofing system attorney general’s office, $378,000.

Emergency roof repairs, Lincoln-Herndon Law Office, $325,263.

Upgrade HVAC State Police District 6 Headquarters, $278,000.

Upgrade HVAC/replace ceiling tiles and windows, IDOT Division of Aeronautics, $181,000.

Upgrade feed water system, Hanley Building, $150,000.

Abate asbestos, Dana-Thomas House, $16,665.

*Christian County

Rehabilitate west boat ramp, Sanchris Lake State Park, $450,000.

Replace operators and main gates, Taylorville Correctional Center, $345,900.

Logan County

Replace roofs on housing units, Logan Correctional Center, $829,000.

UST/AST Site Investigation and Remediation, Helfrich Game Propagation Center, $3,887.

*Morgan County

Install sprinkler system, Illinois School for the Deaf, $3,841,000.

Roofing, painting administration building and renovate dorm restrooms, Illinois School for the Deaf, $3,776,000.

Upgrade life/fire safety, Jacksonville Developmental Center, $1,739,229.

Upgrade fire alarm system, Jacksonville Correctional Center, $1,654,281.

Replace roofing systems, Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, $392,832.

Abate asbestos, Jacksonville Developmental Center, $213,826.

*Major Springfield-area road projects

Interstate 55 from Interstate 72 to Fancy Creek.  Resurfacing and bridge repairs.  $21,153,804.

Clear Lake Avenue reconstruction from Magnolia Drive to Interstate 55, $11,634,240.

Illinois 29 from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport to Jefferson Street and Illinois 4 from J. David Jones Parkway to Business 55 and Business 55 from Sangamon Avenue to Northbrook Court.  Resurfacing and intersection reconstruction.  $8,195,879.

Illinois 29 from Dirksen Parkway to John Street in Rochester.  Resurfacing. $4,496,833.

Illinois 4 from Plummer Boulevard to south side of Chatham.  Resurfacing and bridge replacement at Polecat Creek.  $3,266,501.

Interstate 72 over Interstate 55 south of Springfield. Bridge replacement.  $2,553,304.

Interstate 55 Frontage Road over Illinois Central railroad at Glenarm. Bridge replacement.  $2,515,569.

Illinois 124 from Illinois 123 to Business 55  in Sherman.  Resurfacing.  $2,328,489.