Daley: Pulling Capitol Rehab Funding Too Little, Too Late

Sep 10, 2013

Illinois’ capitol was designed in the late 1800s. Critics are upset about the money spent restoring the statehouse to what architect J. Richard Alsop III calls its “period of historic significance,” with fixtures like this statue of a maiden – which cost approximately $40,000.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  The Governor says he's put a hold on future renovations of Illinois' Statehouse, a move his challenger calls too little, too late.

The fuss over how much money the state has spent redoing the west wing of the Illinois Capitol continues to brew. Some of the $50 million dollar project was done to fix ventilation issues and bring the building up to fire code, but $323,000 paid for gargantuan chandeliers created to look like antiques, and nearly $700,000 was spent on a set of copper doors.

Gov. Pat Quinn is laying what he calls "extravagant spending" at the foot of the capitol's architect, J. Richard Alsop III, and the board that oversees Alsop's work.

"We don't need to have the palace of Versailles at our state capitol, " Quinn says.

Quinn says he had no say over what was spent on various fixtures, as members of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol board are appointed by the General Assembly's leaders.

But Quinn has been governor while the renovations were ongoing.

Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who's also trying to win the Democratic nomination for governor, says Quinn is ultimately responsible.

"The problem with the governor's action is, he was asleep at the switch when all this funding was approved," says Daley's campaign manager, Tom Bowen. "So this action is typical of Gov. Quinn: too little, too late, reacting to a mistake that's already been made."

Daley has called spending on the Capitol's rehab "wasteful."

It's unclear what immediate effect Quinn's call to halt spending on future capitol construction costs will have; the ongoing renovations are nearly complete and contractors will be paid for their work.  While two additional wings of the statehouse are due to be renovated,  Alsop previously indicated there is no set schedule.