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Critics: Why $50 Million Springfield Rehab When Illinois In Deep Debt?

Lawmakers are tasked with producing $100 billion in pension funding. So why did the state spend $323,000 on chandeliers? One senator called it embarrassing.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

There's no shortage of critics questioning why Illinois is spending $50 million on renovating the Capitol building in Springfield while the state has a $100 billion pension problem and is about $5 billion in debt.

Last week the State Journal Register reported custom copper-clad doors cost $670,000; more recently, SJ-R said four chandeliers cost $323,000 and two sculptures of maidens cost $160,000. It led one state senator to say she was "shocked" and "embarrassed" at this kind of spending when the state is in terrible financial shape.

Laurence Msall of the Civic Federation, a financial watchdog group, said the spending on ornamental features was "poor judgment," and the state did not justify why it was a higher priority than spending on education, roads, and public transit, according to Huffington Post. 

Some defenders do point out that the building needed its electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems replaced, and life-safety work performed, and that since renovations might not be done again for 50 years or more, it made sense to use the renovation and construction project to  restore the building the beauty of its late 1800s days, according to the Rockford Register Star. 

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Troy September 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Our elected officials just don't get it and we keep letting them get away with it.

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