Obama Budget Includes Thomson Money

Is $270 million enough?

By Andrew Greiner
|  Monday, Feb 1, 2010  |  Updated 8:30 AM CDT
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Included in the $3.83 trillion budget that President Barack Obama sent Congress Monday is a request for monies to purchase the prison at Thomson, Illinois.

The historically large budget includes about $270 million for the prison, which is slated to host terrorists moved from Guantanamo Bay prison when it is closed.

That’s nearly double the amount that Governor Pat Quinn sought for the penitentiary, $100 to $145 million.

But for critics of the deal, the budget item will likely be historically disappointing. 

In December Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said the state should get closer to $250 million for the underused prison, than Quinn’s $145 million. 

"That number is extremely low. Not only does Illinois get stuck with the terrorists, we get stuck with a big bill. … We deserve a premium for bailing out the Obama administration," Radogno said, according to the Herald-Review. “[Obama] knows we need the money.”

The $270 million allocation would seem to fit that criterion, but not all of the cash is set aside to buy the place. 

The Thomson budget item is for the purchase and upgrade of the prison. It’s not clear how much it will cost to retrofit the prison with provisions suitable for housing known terrorists and for constructing a secure courtroom in which military tribunals can be held.

Still, with the money set aside in the budget it looks like Illinois is going to be looking after some Guantanamo detainees in the near future.

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