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posted: 3/24/2014 5:01 AM

Quinn didn't play it straight on disaster relief

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The November 2013 tornadoes were unexpected and caused terrible damage; however, with few exceptions, the structural damage done to homes and businesses was covered by insurance. Gov. Pat Quinn requested, and received, a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration for the heavily impacted counties, including downstate Washington, so individual homeowner and business victims without adequate insurance could receive federal disaster assistance.

The governor also requested general assistance for public expenditures such as the debris clean up. The White House turned him down. He appealed and was again turned down. Before federal taxpayers are called upon to pay for local government costs like these, the governor had to certify that the damage was so severe and of such a nature that " ... it is beyond state and local capability to recover from ..." He so certified in his letter to the president. However, by its own calculation, the state came up with a bit over $6 million of state and local out-of-pocket costs for which the state wanted reimbursement. The formula in the disaster relief law requires almost $1.35 per capita in unavailable recovery costs (over $17 million in Illinois) to be eligible for federal assistance. The governor knew he'd be turned down and that he can tell the citizens "well, we tried ... its FEMA who let you down."

So what happened on the day after the appeal denial reached the governor's desk? He announces the state has found $45 million dollars to assist in the tornado recovery effort! Your math doesn't work governor. Why did you say $6 million can't be found? Is Illinois broke or isn't it? Are there funds squirreled away for a rainy or windy day? Playing it straight and not hoodwinking your constituents would be a refreshing (and quite un-Illinois-like) start to a new term/administration.

David Schein

Mount Prospect

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