A focal point in the already contentious race for governor has now become a focus for lawmakers negotiating a new state budget, as they assess Gov. Bruce Rauner’s call for $246 million to rebuild the veterans home in Downstate Quincy that has been plagued by fatal outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.

Since a 2015 outbreak of the disease led to the deaths of 12 residents and sickened dozens more, the post-Civil War era veterans home has seen annual occurrences of the disease, including an additional death last year.

Rauner has found himself on the defensive over criticism his administration hasn’t done enough to solve the problem. And critics also say his rebuilding plan introduced less than two weeks ago needs additional study. The Republican governor, though, has consistently said his administration did all it could to manage the outbreaks.

Lawmakers in both parties support funding to eradicate the legionella bacteria likely coming from the veterans home’s aging pipes. But Democrats who control the General Assembly are using the funding issue as leverage to try to achieve a comprehensive budget package that includes other capital improvements before the scheduled end of the spring legislative session Thursday.

SOURCE