Illinois Looks to Spend Additional $900 Million

Despite terrible state finances


State lawmakers are looking at spending more than $900 million to build roads, protect patients from bad doctors and investigate child abuse under legislation that started making its way through the General Assembly on Monday.

The state's financial situation remains poor, but the additional spending is viewed as a way to tweak the budget approved last May. A few million dollars would come from higher fees on doctors to cover the costs of the agency that disciplines wayward physicians, a program just recently beefed up following years of lax oversight. Another $53 million would cover the costs of child welfare programs and other state agency operations from money freed up largely because Gov. Pat Quinn closed some prisons and other state sites.

The bulk of the money — $713 million in road construction and capital projects — is available from a series of sources, including new infusions from the federal government and better-than-expected tax revenue going into the state's road fund.