Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Governor Says Thomson Cash Should Pay Old Bills
Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday he hopes to use money from the planned sale of the Thomson prison to the federal government to pay off some of the state’s overdue bills. “I think we ought to pay our bills with that money,” Quinn said after he and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin announced that a plan for the federal government to buy the empty state prison for $165 million will proceed.
Republicans in Congress continued to oppose the purchase, though, citing concerns that the prison would still somehow be used at part of a Guantanamo closure plan. Virginia Republican Congressman Frank Wolf, who chairs a key spending House subcommittee, would not sign off on using unspent Department of Justice funds for the purchase. “President Obama’s unprecedented directive ... to circumvent Congress to purchase Thomson prison is deeply troubling,” Wolf said in a written statement.
The plan for the U.S. government to buy the prison, empty or almost ever since it was built, was floated back in 2009 as a place to put Guantanamo Bay detainees, a source of controversy ever since. Durbin said, “The president has given his word, this administration has given its word. The law requires that no Guantanamo detainees be placed in the Thomson prison. Period.”
The facility will need upgrades to meet federal standards, however, so Durbin and Quinn said the sale would also result in some temporary construction jobs. The money for construction has yet to be appropriated by Congress.
Quinn said some of the money from the sale would go toward paying off bonds used to build the facility. He said his administration still has to calculate how much would go to pay down borrowing. However, the governor said that the rest of the money should be spent on unpaid bills. “I have to interact with the General Assembly on this when they come together in late November [for the fall veto session],” Quinn said.
You can read Jamey's full report at: http://illinoisissuesblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/quinn-wants-to-use-cash-from-thomson.html