State Seeks To Block Ruling Against Capital Program

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – The Illinois Attorney General’s office will try Thursday to put on hold a state appeals court ruling that would undo Illinois’ major construction program.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports, video poker sponsor state Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) says unless the Appellate Court ruling issued Wednesday is overturned, the General Assembly might have to put it back together from scratch.

“If we have to break this capital bill up into its component parts, it would take several different individual votes on several different issues – a few of them where it’s with taxes, and then of course, video gaming would have to probably stand on its own,” Lang said. “I’m prepared to move forward with it if necessary, but we’ve already dealt with this.”

Lang says the capital bill and the money to pay for it are all one issue, regardless of what the Appellate Court says.

The $31 billion capital construction plan was approved in 2009. In addition to legalizing video poker, it also allowed for privatization of the Illinois Lottery and raised taxes on liquor, soft drinks, candy and various hygiene products.

An appeals court panel ruled unanimously on Wednesday that the Capital Projects violated the state constitution’s “single subject rule.” The legislation violated the rule that a bill appropriating funds must be confined to one subject, and that public funds must only be used for public purposes, the appellate court said.

The taxes and fees outlined in the legislation were to fund a variety of construction projects, from everything from bicycle trails and university buildings and a major overhaul of Illinois highways.

In October 2009, the Wirtz family, which is in the liquor distribution business and also owns the Chicago Blackhawks, filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the construction plan.

Quinn projected in 2009 that the money would support around 439,000 jobs over six years. It was also supposed to repair much of the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

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