Student senate supports parts of capital spending bill

By Michael Logli

Illinois student senators voted to support parts of the state capital spending bill at their meeting Wednesday night. The bill was recently approved by the Illinois Senate and will come before the Illinois General Assembly in 10 days.

The $25 billion, seven-point plan would allocate $1 billion to higher education, including $180 million to the University for different projects such as Lincoln Hall renovations and a building to house the petascale supercomputer. It also calls for $4.8 billion over six years for statewide road and bridge construction, with $5.9 million for a new interchange project east of Urbana on Interstate 74.

Senators argued whether to support certain aspects of the bill unrelated to the University. These items included $303 million for high school education funding and $850,000 for renovating the Vermilion County Civic Center in Danville.

“I’m not against education,” said Gerald Charleston, student senator and graduate student. “Hopefully those people will come here for their education (after graduating).”

The senators also discussed whether to support the section of the bill specifying the source for the allocated funds. By supporting the spending and not the revenue source, the student senate avoids taking a stance on the legality and morality of casinos, said Frank Calabrese, student senator and junior in LAS.

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“I don’t want to make a statement on casinos and funding,” he said. “It’s a very sensitive issue.”

Rob Main, student senator and junior in Business, said that from a business perspective, the General Assembly would not want to pass the bill unless the revenue for the project was included with the spending proposals.

“They will not pass the spending without the revenue,” he said. “It’s all or nothing.”

The senate struck the spending for the Vermilion County Civic Center and the specified revenue source from the executive order.