Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Antes Up $47 Million to Fund Jobs Program

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s efforts to keep the successful Put Illinois to Work program alive have come under fire from State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont).  The issue is $47 million in bond money that Quinn used to extend the job-creation program through the first of the year.  The program was originally funded by the federal government through the stimulus program.  That money was used up by last September and Quinn has twice infused the program with state cash to keep it running.

Since its inception, Put Illinois to Work has found jobs that pay approximately $10 an hour for 26,000 unemployed and underemployed Illinoisans.  Strategic programs by the Department of Transportation (IDOT), Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Department of Human Services (IDHS) have all supported continued improvement in the state’s economy.  Quinn had hoped that the federal government would provide new funding for the program, but that isn’t happening.  As a result, he decided to keep it alive through January by using money the state will receive from the tobacco settlement.

 Curiously, Radogno said “Not only is it a waste of taxpayer dollars to expand the programs piece-by-piece without any plan or requirement that participants will ultimately see permanent employment, it’s cruel to the men and women who believe they’re working towards a long-term position.”  Quinn countered by saying “Putting people back to work is the best way to make our economy stronger.  I remain hopeful that Congress will extend the funding for the ‘Put Illinois to Work’ program, which has created more than 26,000 jobs in Illinois alone.  I am extending this program today to keep thousands of people in Illinois at work through the holiday season.”

In October, the statewide unemployment rate fell again for the seventh consecutive month to 9.8 percent (seasonally adjusted) and the state created 8,000 new jobs.  Illinois has added more than 53,000 jobs in 2010, proof of a steadily improving economy.  Since January 2009, DCEO has created 103 business investment packages that have created and retained more than 23,900 jobs and leveraged $3.18 billion in private investment.  Additionally, IDOT is currently leading the largest road construction program in state history through the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program.  From 2009 through the end of this year the state will have invested approximately $7 billion to repair or rebuild 4,800 miles of roads and 500 bridges, creating an estimated 135,000 short-term and permanent jobs.