Rep. Grant posits that special needs programs might benefit more from capital funding than arts
Republican state Rep. Amy Grant (Wheaton) has no difficultly thinking of better uses for the $60 million Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has allocated to the arts from his recently passed capital spending plan.
“We have special needs children,” Grant told the DuPage Policy Journal. “A lot of money is put into these kids, but once they hit 18 they’re left at the doorsteps. We need to partner up with retailers, merchants across the state so that they can do some sort of job training program. There are a lot of people who believe arts are very important, but I hardly believe in my district that people would say that arts trump special needs children or young adults.”
While the $60 million is merely a small fraction of the entire $45 billion set aside for the first capital spending plan the state has seen in over a decade, Grant argues that it serves as a bad example of how lawmakers in Springfield always seem to have an agenda that benefits those seen as being the most connected.
“Art lovers and people that enjoy the arts should be willing to also pay for the arts,” Grant said. “We have the Chicago Botanic Garden. In my view, that is also an art and I have seen the list of donors who donate. So, I believe with good fundraising, like they do at Chicago Botanic Garden, that’s what needs to be happening throughout the art world. I think that $60 million is quite a bit of money to be going into programs like that."
According to the Chicago Tribune, at least $50 million of the money will be part of a capital projects program overseen by the Illinois Arts Council, where longtime House Speaker Mike Madigan’s wife, Shirley, serves as chairman of the board of directors. The other $10 million will go toward line-item grants, where the recipients of the monies have already been designated.