Having a foundation to generate private donations for Illinois’ two fairgrounds would help cover some of the maintenance costs, something Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says would help direct tax dollars to other areas like education and social services.
Republican state Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez said she’s been going to the fairgrounds since she was a child and hasn’t seen much upkeep since then.
Illinois Department of Agriculture Acting Director Raymond Poe also commented on the poor upkeep over the years.
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“Sara said some of these buildings haven’t been worked on since she was a kid. Well, I think some of them haven’t been since I was a kid,” Poe said, “and that adds a lot more years to it.”
With more than $180 million in deferred maintenance at the fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin, facility safety is a growing concern, he added.
“A lot of buildings (have) yellow tape around them so that we keep people away from them,” Poe said.
Rauner said allowing a fairgrounds foundation to collect private donations would help cover much-needed maintenance costs, alleviate some taxpayer burden and free up money for more key educational and human services priorities.
Rauner said neighboring states already have established similar foundations.
“There’s no vehicle for businesses, agriculture businesses, to donate to here in Illinois,” Rauner said. “We’ve got to change that.”
Rauner pushed for lawmakers to take up House Bill 4990 and Senate Bill 2903, which would create a fairgrounds foundation to solicit private donations for fairground maintenance.