Fancy copper doors for Illinois despite debts

September 6, 2013 

Illinois had $6.1 billion in unpaid bills at the end of the fiscal year and nearly $100 billion in pension debt, but it found $667,000 to buy copper-clad doors for the state Capitol.

What's wrong with this picture?

The doors are part of a $50 million Capitol renovation project -- $7 million more than it was supposed to cost. It's part of the state's $31 billion capital spending program.

Was this renovation really one of the state's top capital needs? Doubtful. There are unfunded projects around the state that are more urgently needed than this.

The expensive doors symbolize lawmakers' and Gov. Pat Quinn's failure to be frugal and set spending priorities. Maintenance rather than a full-scale renovation would have been more appropriate given the state's dire financial shape.

Quinn's spokeswoman said Quinn was "surprised" by the doors: "The governor is concerned about the architect's judgment and some of his decisions."

Throwing the architect under the bus isn't doing Quinn any favors. Instead it reinforces the notion that he's an ineffective, out-of-touch leader.

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