Allocating $60 million for arts in the midst of a fiscal crisis speaks to Illinois politics, Wilhour says
Republican state Rep. Blaine Wilhour (Effingham) says the fact that lawmakers in Springfield have earmarked some $60 million out of the recently passed capital spending plan for arts programs across Illinois tells voters everything they need to know about the state government’s dysfunction.
“It speaks directly to biggest problems we have in the state of Illinois,” Wilhour told the South Central Reporter. “Politicians don’t prioritize their spending very well. Those basically are luxury spending items. When we have billions of dollars in our backload of bills, billions in pension debt and a $41 billion budget that we can’t afford, those are things we don’t need to be funding.”
While the $60 million is just a small fraction of the overall $45 billion budget, Wilhour said it is symbolic of Springfield’s frivolous nature, especially when it relates to those that are viewed as being connected.
“I have a feeling that if you look very hard into where that money is going, it’s probably more politically connected than what you would think,” he said. “I think Speaker (Mike) Madigan’s wife is probably receiving a pretty sizable portion of that and that’s just wrong. It’s indicative of how Illinois politicians do business. It’s been a long-standing trend that we’re trying to combat.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Shirley Madigan’s Illinois Arts Council, where she serves as chairman of the board of directors, will oversee the decision-making of at least $50 million of the funds that are to be disbursed through the capital projects program. The other $10 million will go toward line-item grants, where the recipient of the monies has already been designated.
“Illinois politicians refuse to deal with real issues,” Wilhour added. “I don’t know if they’re blind to them or they just don’t care. For at least five years running, we’ve led the nation in exodus and people’s biggest reason for leaving are higher taxes and lack of opportunity.”
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