Peoria State Journal Star

December 11, 2003

Delayed spending bill affects central Illinois
Money for hospitals, development projects held up until January

By DORI MEINERT
of Copley News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress adjourned for the holidays this week without completing action on a massive spending bill that contains millions of federal dollars for the Peoria area.

The House on Monday easily approved the funding bill, which includes $1.7 million for two Peoria hospitals and $5 million for economic development projects around the city.

But the projects will have to wait at least until next month. The Senate on Tuesday postponed its vote until Jan. 20, when the new session of Congress begins.

U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said Wednesday he was disappointed by the Senate's delay, but he predicted the bill would pass the Senate in late January.

The $820 billion funding bill is actually seven appropriations bills rolled into one. Congress should have completed action on the bill, which funds 11 different Cabinet agencies, before Oct. 1, the beginning of federal fiscal year 2004.

The House approved the measure, 242 to 176. In the Senate, Democrats demanded a roll call vote, but the Republican leadership refused to call members back to Washington for a vote.

The House-approved bill includes $900,000 to expand OSF Saint Francis Medical Center's emergency department to handle a major catastrophic event.

It also includes $800,000 for Proctor Hospital, $550,000 of which would go toward the recently completed emergency room expansion and $250,000 to establish a gambling treatment program for adolescents.

The bill includes $3.6 million for research and development at the Biotechnology Research and Development Corp. in Peoria. The consortium of government, university and corporate partners pools its grants for research into the biotech field.

In addition, $500,000 would be available for planning the new Medical and Technology District, which includes the city's three hospitals. And $200,000 would be earmarked for Peoria NEXT to provide training in bioscience and biotechnology.

Another $648,500 is included for sanitary sewers for Peoria's fast-growing northwest side.

The House bill also provides $100,000 to spruce up the entrance to South Peoria from Greater Peoria Regional Airport, along Interstate 474 and into Downtown via U.S. Route 24.

The aim is "to give the entrance to Peoria a better look about it on that end of town," LaHood said.

Another $150,000 contained in the bill would go to the Center for Prevention of Abuse, which is $500,000 short of its goal of $4.2 million to add eight new apartments and a counseling wing to its existing shelter. The center received a similar level of federal funding last year, LaHood said.

Other projects that would be funded by the House-passed bill include:

- $2.7 million for ongoing improvements at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, as well as $906,469 for an animal health program and $476,880 for crop production and food processing research.

- $300,000 for new buses at CityLink.

- $401,500 for the village of Washington to improve School Street sanitary sewers.

- $350,000 for construction of new water service lines and storage tanks in the city of Delavan.

- $100,000 for ongoing construction of a new Tazewell-Woodford Head Start facility.