Clock is ticking on federal funds for Quincy Veterans Home, McSweeney says
April 26, 2018
Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) insisted Gov. Bruce Rauner contact President Donald Trump about $265 million in funding to build new facilities and renovate older ones at the Quincy Veterans Home.
After reading from a 35-page Capital Development Board report at the April 19 Joint Senate-House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, McSweeney asked Rauner Senior Adviser Mike Hoffman when the state and nation’s leader would discuss federal reimbursement funds.
Expedited permits and special procurement processes are also needed to begin the project, according to McSweeney, who said the time for task forces has passed.
“Let’s pass a stand-alone bill that has already been filed in the Senate, because I don’t want to be having this conversation in a couple of months when we have potentially more cases,” McSweeney said.
Hoffman said they have acted and discussed the 65 percent matching funds with the federal government.
“We do want to come to the General Assembly by the end of the session with a comprehensive package that would get us all the things you talked about,” Hoffman said.
That still wasn’t enough for McSweeney, who wanted a promise the governor would talk to the president.
McSweeney’s request to contact the president is a little out of the ordinary, said Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy), who assured McSweeney that action is being taken.
“I see no point in contacting the president of the United States,” Tracy said. “I am sure he will be involved, but certainly the federal authorities are engaged.”
Rep. Randy Frese (R-Paloma) questioned the 65 percent funding, asking if it was a reimbursement or matching dollars. Hoffman said it is a recompense but retaining the funds from the federal government could take time, so money is needed now to pay sub-contractors to begin construction.
“What is the feasibility to know that they are authorizing this by May 1,” Frese asked.
It is a good year for federal funding, according to Hoffman, who said he is confident Illinois will be reimbursed at the full 65 percent.
Tracy asked if the timeline could be pushed up to the end of April or very beginning of May to ensure the General Assembly has time to vote on the funding before the session ends.
“We will find a way to make it work," Hoffman said.
More concerned with the water filtration system then funding, Rep. Daniel Swanson (R-Alpha) asked if there has been any detection of Legionnaires' disease since new piping had been installed.
Hoffman said there have been “no hits” of the disease after the filter installation, which included new faucets placed on more than 750 spouts in Quincy's drinking fountains, sinks, showers and ice machines.
“Pre-filter there are still some hits of Legionella,” Hoffman said.
Swanson wanted to know about water treatment at the new Sycamore facility, which will be renovated and used as an additional residential home on the Quincy site.
“We would never let anyone in the home if the water was not as safe or safer than the water that they have at Quincy,” Hoffman said.