To close the state’s budget shortfall, Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed closing a prison, a juvenile detention center and homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. These provide essential social services by keeping criminals and crazy people off the streets. Ward Room has come up with a list of state facilities more deserving of closing.
- The Governor’s Mansion: Gov. Quinn can stay at the $55-a-night Homestyle Inn until he submits a balanced budget. If it’s good enough for lawmakers from Golconda and Danville, it’s good enough for Quinn. He hardly ever sleeps in the Governor's Mansion, anyway.
- The State Capitol: The House and Senate should convene in Conference Rooms A and B of the Springfield Hilton. According to the hotel’s website: “With more than 50,000 square feet of Springfield, IL meeting spaces, the Hilton Springfield can accommodate up to 1,200 attendees. We are the only hotel in Springfield that has a state-of-the-art Conference Center.” For big events, such as a State of the State address, the General Assembly can use the Prairie Capital Convention Center, if it’s not booked for professional wrestling, or a Judas Priest concert.
- The James R. Thompson Center: Few people know this, but the James R. Thompson Center is built of Legos, so it can be easily disassembled and stored in a West Side warehouse until the state is on firmer financial footing. The Thompson Center Food Court, Illinois’s finest collection of fried chicken, doughnuts and falafel, will be allowed to remain open, as it’s underground and brings in revenue to the state.
- The DuQuoin State Fair: Have you ever heard of DuQuoin? Did you know it has a state fair? It doesn’t make sense to have multiple state fairs, two weeks and 150 miles apart. The harness races should be moved to Soldier Field, where they’ll more resemble the racing scene from Ben-Hur. Not even Downstaters think they need two state fairs. The Journal-Courier of Jacksonville recently editorialized:
When the state is months behind on payments to providers of human services and health care, and when many agencies and programs are being cut to the bone, it only makes sense to consider whether the state's spending on its fairs can be reduced.
In particular, is it necessary or cost-effective to have two state fairs? The fair in Springfield started Aug. 12 and just ended Sunday, while the DuQuoin State Fair runs from Aug. 26 through Sept. 5. Could the fairs perhaps be shortened or even consolidated to save money? Illinois has a strong agricultural tradition, but our state is becoming increasingly urbanized.
- The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library: Abraham Lincoln is the most written-about person in history, after Jesus Christ. Historians have written over 15,000 books about the 16th President. What more is there to say? He’s been dead for 146 years. He’s not giving us any new material. Let’s close the Lincoln library until we finish reading all the Lincoln books out there already. Then historians can write more.