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ISU Fine Arts, Milner Library Rehab Included In Illinois Budget, Capital Bills

Centennial East building entrance
Eric Stock
The Centennial East building is part of the Illinois State University Fine Arts complex which is targeted to receive a $62 million renovation.

A renovation that's been in the works for over a decade on the Illinois State University campus could soon become reality.
The new state budget which lawmakers have approved sets aside $61.9 million to renovate the College of Fine Arts building. The state approved the project in 2009 and have included the money in subsequent budgets, but lawmakers never appropriated the money.

“We are very happy to see that, but we always take a cautious approach because we know these things don’t move all that quickly,” said ISU Director of Media Relations Eric Jome.

The state put the project on the backburner for years during its prolonged budget battles between then-Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature.

Lawmakers instead approved deferred maintenance on the building.

The state's new capital bill, dubbed Rebuild Illinois, also targets $89.2 million to renovate Milner Library, plus another $40.4 million for deferred maintenance.

ISU is also getting a state appropriation of close to $69.6 million starting July 1. That's a 5% increase over last year, but still lower than what it got five years ago, prior to several years of stopgap funding measures for higher education in Illinois.

“We are just most grateful for the stability,” Jome said. “We know that something stable is coming along and then that allows us to do our budgeting and know where we stand from one year to the next.”

Illinois plans to fund its $45 billion capital bill by doubling the state’s gas tax to 38 cents starting July 1, raising vehicle registration fees and increasing the cigarette tax.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.