Capital Dispatch

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Springfield—Lawmakers ended a November veto session without voting on an extension of the state’s school construction program, which Chicago Public Schools was counting on to pay for a third of its new projects.

This spring, Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed a $500 million program to build new schools across the state, plus $50 million to help districts pay for major repairs. But the governor never specified where the money would come from.

The only funding idea floated in November was to use tax revenue from new casinos. But negotiations over expanded gaming foundered and the construction bill languished.

The stalemate means CPS won’t get $110 million it was expecting this year for capital projects. And economic forecasters warn the state will still be in the red next year.

Mike Vaughn, a CPS spokesman, says officials hope legislators will find the construction money soon. But, he adds, “We’re a little less hopeful now than at the start of the veto session.”