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Tom Cullerton: Rauner has no intention to fix Quincy veterans home

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VILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is frustrated with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s insincere efforts to rid the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy of Legionella bacteria.

The governor’s administration flip-flopped on its original proposal this week after spending three years examining pipe cost estimates to refit the building. In a change, the governor now wants to build entirely new buildings – an idea which first surfaced in a January veterans affairs committee hearing.

“We are going on three years of inaction and lack of leadership from Gov. Rauner’s administration. It is clear he has no intention to rid the Quincy veterans home of Legionnaires’ disease,” Cullerton said. “At this point, his photo ops and press conferences provide nothing but lip service to our nation’s heroes while we wait on a real plan to guarantee our veterans receive the care and service they deserve.”

The governor’s administration has created two task forces to examine the issue, but they only meet for one hour each month.

“Three years later, all the governor has to show for his efforts to combat an outbreak that caused 13  deaths are two engineering reports, two monthly task force meetings, dramatically misquoted figures and no real solution,” Cullerton said. “That is a long laundry list of nothing.”

Due to high temperatures expected during the upcoming summer months, the veterans will be at a greater risk than ever, and Cullerton said he is furious to see the inaction continue.

“How many more United States veterans need to die on the governor’s watch before he actually does something? I refuse to sit quietly as the governor makes a mockery of state government,” Cullerton said.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) once again urgently requested Gov. Rauner’s detailed plan of action for ensuring the safety of residents, family and staff at the home. They also pressed Rauner’s Administration to accept the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ offer of technical assistance – which includes a site visit to the Quincy home – as well as ongoing VA financial support and expert assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If Gov. Rauner cannot lead us to a remedy, he should move out of the way and allow us to fix this problem,” Cullerton said. “Our nation’s heroes cannot afford to wait one more day.”

On Monday, Cullerton, who serves as the Chairman of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs committee, called a bipartisan hearing to further investigate and push the governor’s administration toward a solution. But committee members once again left with unanswered questions and further confusion as to why the governor’s administration refuses to act.

The administration claims that they will have a preliminary report by March 31.