- Associated Press - Saturday, August 13, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Efforts in the state Legislature to create a private foundation that would support the fairgrounds in Springfield and Du Quoin remain stalled as the Illinois State Fair kicks off this year.

A bill that has the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Raymond Poe failed to advance this spring despite unanimous support from the Senate Executive Committee, the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers (https://bit.ly/2aQYMqn ) reported.

State Sen. Bill Brady, a Bloomington Republican, has sponsored a bill that would create a nonprofit organization that could solicit private funds and corporate sponsorships to help with upkeep of the facilities that host the fairs in Springfield and the Du Quoin State Fair.

The bill wasn’t called for a vote before the General Assembly finished its extended spring session in late June.

“We can’t overly rely on state funds to maintain these facilities,” Rauner said during a March news conference at the Springfield fairgrounds while standing in front of a barn with a gaping hole in its roof. “We’ve got to come up with creative solutions that don’t pressure our taxpayers more.”

Rauner, Poe and others supporting the creation of a private foundation have said neighboring states, such as Iowa, Indiana and Missouri, have similar arrangements to help back their fairs.

Brady’s bill is similar to legislation from state Sen. Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, that passed the Senate in 2014 but wasn’t approved into the house.

A major difference between the two bills was that Brady’s bill would’ve exempted projects paid for only with foundation funds from having to go through the normal state bidding process.

The newspaper couldn’t reach Brady for comment.

Poe sponsored similar legislation as a state representative before resigning last year to head the Department of Agriculture. While testifying before the Senate committee earlier this year, he said the ability to raise private funds would help the department catch up on a backlog of maintenance projects that stood at $180 million.

Illinois Capital Development Board officials said most of those projects are in Springfield, but that at least $12 million of work was needed in Du Quoin.

The prospects of Brady’s bill in the House are dim even if it eventually wins Senate approval. House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has expressed apprehension about the kinds of public-private partnerships the governor favors.

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