Illinois' gift is the promise of billions in federal money for a
vast array of projects and programs ranging from repairs of
crumbling highways and schools to shoring up unemployment benefits.
The state should pull in $8.8 billion in stimulus money, according
to the National Governors Association and National Conference of
State Legislatures. Other estimates vary by billions, depending on
assumptions and calculations.
In amounts going to individual states, Illinois ranks sixth --
roughly where it ranks nationally in population. California is
getting the most stimulus money, at around $26 billion, according to
"Illinois believes that it did get its fair share under the
stimulus plan," said Bob Reed, a spokesman for Gov. Pat Quinn, on
Wednesday. "We're satisfied."
Illinois' share of the bill includes around $3 billion in
Medicaid funding; more than $1.7 billion through a stabilization
fund for school districts, public colleges and universities; and
around $1.5 billion for transportation.
Longtime advocates of more public spending on the state's aging
infrastructure say they're pleased, too. But they hasten to warn the
federal cash injection won't come close to solving all Illinois'
road and public transit woes.
"This is just a down payment of what needs to be done of over the
coming years and decades," said Brian Imus, director of Illinois
Public Interest Research Group. "The state legislature will still
need to get its own capital program in place."
The Chicago area alone, he added, will need at least $10 billion
over the next decade to repair its mass transit networks -- parts of
which are more than five decades old.
Among the comparatively small Illinois projects set to receive
money is one that helps senior meals programs cope with food and
fuel cost increases; it'll get more than $2 million. There's also
more than $3 million for school lunch programs.
[to top of second column]
President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus plan
Tuesday, predicting the package of spending and tax cuts marked "the
beginning of the end" of America's worst economic slide since the
1930s-era Great Depression.
Democrats also hope the plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs
across the country. Nearly 150,000 of those jobs will be in
Illinois, according to the White House.
Most spending details have yet to be worked out in Illinois,
including which road projects and schools will get federal money.
State officials hope to identify more specific projects within the
next few weeks, Reed said.
One of the only agencies to have already drawn up a detailed list
of projects it wants funded is the Illinois Department of
Transportation, which last week released a nearly $700 million wish
list dominated by road repair projects.
States won't want to linger long in making decisions. Slow
deliberation is likely to be penalized with use-it-or-lose-it
provisions in the federal bill that can take money away from states
that don't spend funds fast enough.
"States will be rewarded for spending the money sooner rather
than later," Imus said.
By MICHAEL TARM]
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or