$3.5 billion is going to school construction projects. Here’s a look at where the money's landing.
A six-year, $45 billion infrastructure spending plan was approved by lawmakers in late May — a major goal for new Gov. J.B. Pritzker during his first year in office.
Even though it's been 10 years since the last capital plan left a myriad of construction projects across the state in need of repair, approving such a massive spending plan is never without controversy, since paying for it comes by hiking taxes on gasoline, parking and cigarettes, along with massive gambling expansion.
One component that helped sweeten the pot for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle: $3.5 billion for education infrastructure improvement projects - new gymnasiums and football fields, expanded libraries, STEM labs, playgrounds and more.
We paged through the thousand-page capital bill, looking at which projects landed in which legislators’ districts, and how that pans out across Illinois.
Here are some highlights:
●The Philip J. Rock Center and School for Hearing and Vision Impairment
-$6.5 million in capital upgrades
●John Hancock College Preparatory High School in Chicago
-$9 million in capital upgrades
●McPherson Elementary School in Chicago
-$400,000 for a turf athletic field
●The Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization
-$410,497 for a new playground
●Queen Bee School District 16
-$300,000 for library improvements
-$300,000 for playground improvements
●Greeley School in Winnetka
-$460,000 for building renovations
●Morgan Park High School in Chicago
-$1 million for gymnasium improvements
●Thornton Township High School District 205
-$200,000 for demolition of electric shop
- $190,000 for auditorium renovations
●Round Lake Area School District 116
-$700,000 for boiler replacements
-$700,000 for roof maintenance
-$750,000 for rooftop units
-$400,000 for sidewalk and curb maintenance
-$200,000 for bathroom facilities
-$500,000 for roofing improvements
●Jahn Elementary School in Chicago
-$591,750 for park and play area construction
●Downers Grove School District 58
-$180,000 for playground improvements at El Sierra School
-$234,000 for playground improvements at Fairmount School
-$195,000 for playground improvements at Indian Trail School
-$26,200 for playground improvements at Whittier School
-$74,600 for playground improvements at Hillcrest School
-$190,000 for playground improvements at Kingsley
-$148,000 for playground improvements at Lester School
-$255,000 for playground improvements at Henry Puffer School
-$111,000 for playground improvements at Highland School
●Oswego School District
-$1.38 million for school construction
-$222,879 for building repairs
As a longstanding practice, lawmakers each get an a set amount, called "member initiative" money to spend within their district on capital projects as they see fit. This year, representatives received $3 million, and senators $6 million. Additional grants for projects, in some cases, have also been awarded to various lawmakers' districts. Here's a look at some of the allocations.
A few private facilities made the list, too:
Maryville Academy’s Jen Vocational School in Des Plaines - $250,000
Leo Catholic High School in Chicago - $100,000 for capital improvements
Marist High School in Chicago - $300,000 for capital improvements
St. Gabriel Catholic School - $18,749 for capital improvements
And here’s a look at how some of the biggest chips fell, by state Senate District:
The list of line items doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The capital bill also allocates millions of dollars in block grants to undisclosed recipients for school capital improvements to be doled out through a competitive bidding process by the State Board of Education and Capital Development Board. That includes: $22 million for trauma recovery centers, $163 million for infrastructure improvements, and $200 million for maintenance projects, among other block grants.
Despite a deep partisan divide, educating the state’s school children is typically an area where lawmakers from both sides of the aisle can agree. This year wasn’t an exception. Jason Gerwig, spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, told Capitol News Illinois June 7 that although Republicans opposed many of Pritzker’s initiatives, including a graduated income tax, a minimum wage hike, recreational cannabis legalization and expansion of guaranteed reproductive health services, sending more funding to schools was an area where Democrats and Republicans found common ground this session. See the capital bill's role call here.
Along with the $3.5 billion for education infrastructure, the capital bill also allocates $33.2 billion for transportation projects including roads and bridges, $4.3 billion for state facilities, $1.2 billion for environmental conservation projects, $420 million for broadband expansion and $465 million for health care and human services facilities.
“After years of neglecting our state’s roads, bridges, mass transit, and buildings, Illinoisans’ health and safety have been jeopardized, and job creation has been hindered,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I’m proud that the state is on the verge of adopting a bipartisan infrastructure plan for the first time in a decade. Our plan to rebuild our roads, bridges and communities will create hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout our state. The Rebuild Illinois plan will reinvigorate our economy and strengthen our rightful status as the transportation and supply chain hub of the nation.”
*Wagner Acerbi Horta and Meghan Coleman contributed to this report.
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