Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mount Vernon Senator Wants STAR Bonds District Too

If a Mount Vernon state senator gets his way, the proposed Millennium Development project for Marion could be delayed.

State Sen. John O. Jones, R-Mount Vernon, wants to amend SB 2093 to allow a STAR Bonds district for the King City as well.

Chances of it actually happening are right up there with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich telling the truth at his upcoming corruption trial (or ever).

State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, told the Southern Illinoisan it's too late. With the Senate expected to be in session only one to three days next week, there's little time for following to take place.

1) Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, as the chief Senate sponsor of the bill actually agreeing to it.

2) Jones writing the amendment and bringing to a vote in some Senate committee.

3) The legislative staff in the various agencies getting the sure-to-be-expected-requested impact notes filed on time. This is what delayed the vote two weeks ago when Jones' House partner state Rep. David Reis, R-Olney, requested them to slow down Bradley's bill before it passed the House (here and here.

4) The Senate passing the amended version, sending it back to the House.

5) The House receiving the legislation and referring it to the Rules Committee.

6) The Rules Committee referring it back to the Revenue and Finance Committee.

7) The Revenue and Finance Committee holding another hearing on the once-again amended bill.

8) The Revenue and Finance Committee voting to pass out the bill to the full House.

9) The full House of Representatives voting for the bill again.

All of this has to be done before House Speaker Michael Madigan can figure out a way to pass a partial budget that's relatively balanced and getting his Democratic caucus out of Springfield before they do something electorally devastating like pass an income tax hike six months before an election.

Bradley is right. There's barely enough time for the current bill to be passed by the Senate, which still has to be referred out of the Assignments Committee and into another committee to hold a hearing on the bill. That committee then has to vote to pass the bill out to the full Senate for a vote.

If Mount Vernon wants a STAR Bonds District, they should first find a developer who wants to use it, then introduce their own legislation, not hold up this one.

Here's something that most people don't know. A few years ago, Mount Vernon lawmakers introduced a bill creating a Southeastern Illinois Economic Development Authority which included all the counties in Jones' district plus Franklin and Williamson Counties.

Before the bill could be passed the Mount Vernon lawmakers amended the bill removing Franklin and Williamson Counties from the mix.

I'm sure the behind the scenes deal was simple. We'll remove Franklin and Williamson this year and next year we'll support the creation of the Southern Illinois Economic Development Authority which includes the remaining counties in Sen. Forby's district.

The following year that is exactly what happened.

The problem though is simple. That first economic development authority received state funds for operations thanks to state Rep. Kurt Granberg, D-Carlyle. Granted, they were mostly for his proposed Abraham Lincoln Golf Trail, but it was funds nevertheless which allowed the board, which the governor actually did appoint, to hire an executive director, and actually go to work.

The Southern Illinois Economic Development Authority is just sitting there on paper in the law books. Neither Gov. Blagojevich nor Gov. Pat Quinn have appointed any members to the board of directors as required by law, nor have any county chairman made their appointments. It's a terrific economic development tool with up to $250 million in bonding authority that's going to waste.

No comments: