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Capitol Lights Going Up This Morning; Unions Say It's A Gesture Of Goodwill, Not A Political Nab

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

A 50-year holiday tradition will light up the Illinois statehouse after all, even if a Grinch-like budget gridlock carries on through the rest of the year. Crews will hang strings of Christmas lights over the dome this morning.

Not having a state budget has led to a lot of consequences. One of the more visible ones: Secretary of State Jesse White announced last week the capitol would have to go dark for the holidays. White says the office can't afford it.

A council of the local carpenters', laborers' and operating engineers' unions have come to the rescue. They've paid the $7,300 power bill. They're fronting the bill.

“My entire life - I'm 45 years old - those lights have been lit up. It's a 50 year tradition," Brad Schaive business manager with for the Laborers Local 477.

The gesture has been characterized as an attempt by the unions to goad Governor Bruce Rauner, who has been pushing for union-weakening measures. His insistence that they pass, coupled with Democrats' insistence that they don't, is largely responsible for the gridlock.

Schaive says the offer was never intended as a jab at the governor.

"Man, no, actually no, to tell you the truth Bruce Rauner didn't even come into this conversation when we talked about it," he said. "It's the holidays, it's Christmas, it's an overwhelming feeling of goodwill within the community. And I think we could use a lot of that. As a matter of fact we could use more of it."

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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