Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, last week questioned Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's recent $47 million extension of the state-funded "Put Illinois to Work" program with a deficit of up to $15 billion of looming and growing debt.

"I don't doubt the program's intentions, but when the state is facing a $15 billion deficit and owes billions more in bonding and pension debt, we have an obligation to ask, 'Is this program the most effective way to create the good-paying, permanent jobs that Illinois needs?' " Radogno said.

Radogno said in a statement she found it particularly troublesome that Quinn planned to use funds from the state's $1.46 billion sale last week of tobacco bonds to cover most of the extension's cost. Such a move "may be a violation of both the letter and intent of the law enacted authorizing the securitization of tobacco settlement funds to reduce the state's bill backlog," she said.

Radogno sent a letter to Quinn asking how many of the 26,000 program participants have transitioned to permanent, non-subsidized jobs with their employers and how many participating employers have committed to offer permanent employment to workers. She also asked the governor what legal authority he had to tap the bond proceeds.

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