DECATUR — More than two months after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner visited Crossing Healthcare for a funding announcement, the clinic still hasn’t received $3 million in promised state money — a delay that Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar on Friday called unacceptable.
Rauner visited the clinic at 320 Central Ave. in Decatur on Feb. 2, when officials announced a $3 million gift from Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett’s private foundation. Buffett’s donation was meant to match the state funding, officials said at the time.
But the clinic still hasn’t received the money, and Manar said Rauner had only approved $750,000.
"I would hate to think the governor could be so cruel as to dangle money in front of a clinic just so he could get in front of a TV camera,” said Manar, of Bunker Hill.
Abdon Pallasch, a spokesman for Comptroller Susana Mendoza, said the comptroller's office is now processing the $750,000, after receiving the sign-off for that amount from the governor's office Friday.
"We'd be happy to release (the full amount) as soon as we get it," Pallasch said.
A spokeswoman for the governor, Rachel Bold, says Rauner signed off on the full $3 million on Feb. 8, six days after he toured Crossing Healthcare's facility.
"Then it goes to the (Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity) to give the grant, and they've given them a quarter of the grant, and we've asked them to expedite the rest," Bold said. "We expect that to happen very soon."
Bold said she did not know why the grant was being made in installments or the reasoning behind the timing of its release.
The money in question is tied to construction of the new, larger Crossing facility that opened in September 2015. Half of the $6 million cost was to be paid by the state’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital projects program, and the rest from loans, donations and operating revenues.
But shortly after taking office, Rauner froze all state capital grants. The eventual budget impasse left Crossing with a half-built facility, and its board of directors decided to borrow the $3 million expected from the state so that it could move ahead with construction.
The lingering debt forced the clinic's leadership to be extra vigilant about its budget. Joseph Schrodt, president of the Crossing board of directors and a retired orthopedic surgeon, put up his own assets as collateral to make sure the center could borrow the full amount.
That's where Buffett's donation came in. He told Rauner in December that he would put up $3 million if the state would match the contribution by releasing the $3 million from the initial grant.
“He liked the idea and he told me he’d get back to me,” Buffett said in February. “So that’s how we ended up with where we are today.”
Buffett said in an email Friday evening that he did not know about the status of the state money, but his foundation had paid the $3 million he had pledged.
Crossing is a federally qualified health clinic that serves Macon and surrounding counties, providing care to more than 19,000 patients in 2016.
During Rauner's visit to Crossing in February, CEO Tanya Andricks praised Manar and Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, for their work on securing the money.
"They (both) advocated extensively for this, they spent hours of the past three years to make this happen," she said at the time.
Andricks and Rose could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.