Budget pact key to KC progress

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By Dave Bell

The educational crown jewel of Vandalia – the Kaskaskia College Vandalia Campus building – stands as a testament to our community’s commitment to education.

It’s a beautiful structure that combines functionality with an architectural theme that’s a throwback to the lines contained in the Vandalia Statehouse.

And the funding that was used to build it also tells a story. It was all built without state funding – not by design, but because the community and the college wanted to make it happen and the state wasn’t forthcoming with its match.

But now, thanks to its inclusion in the capital construction bill passed by the Illinois General Assembly, the prospects for building a second structure on the campus have gained new life. Phase II actually is a line item project in the budget – with an allocation of $5.6 million attached to it.

Only one thing stands in the way of that building becoming reality and the state finally making good on its match.

That lone barrier is the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn.

Unfortunately, the governor has told legislators that the much-anticipated capital bill will remain unsigned until they agree to his terms on a state budget. Quinn knows he has leverage over the legislators because they want to see the projects move forward and bring jobs to the folks back in their home districts.

Agreeing on the budget will be no easy task. The state is billions of dollars in the red, and painful compromises will be necessary to balance the budget – probably through a combination of serious cuts and significant new revenue sources.

For the fiscal health and stability of the state, we need to come up with a plan to balance the budget. And we need to work with the governor to convince him to release the captive capital monies.

We urge our representatives to give the utmost priority to resolving the budget stalemate. We need a financial blueprint for the state, and we need to see the long-neglected capital projects move forward – including the Kaskaskia College Phase II project and the four-laning of U.S. Route 51.