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Bill to support Springfield, Du Quoin fairgrounds stalled

Gov. Bruce Rauner participates in opening ceremonies in 2016 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD — A foundation formed by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner two years ago to raise funds for repairing the state fairgrounds is falling short of its $2 million to $3 million annual target.

The latest financial report filed by the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation shows income in 2017 was just over $32,000, The State Journal-Register reported.

Foundation Chairman John Slayton said it's been "a slower process than what I envisioned." He said there's an education process involved in trying to secure donations.

People have raised concerns about whether the money could be put other uses, Slayton said. Lawmakers have taken funds out of special state funds to balance the budget. But the foundation money is separate from those state accounts and cannot be swept by lawmakers.

"You have to walk them through the process," said Slayton.

He said that some donors, including companies like John Deere, Caterpillar and State Farm, already contributed to the governor's mansion.

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"So the well's kind of dry there for a few years," said Slayton. "I think we'll have to wait. That's fine because they both had to be renovated."

Rauner created the foundation after the state legislature didn't vote to create one.

Republican Rep. Tim Butler said he thinks a financial commitment from the governor would help the foundation.

"I don't think there's been the buy-in as much as it should be to move the foundation forward," Butler said.

But Rauner's spokeswoman Patty Schuh said the governor has made some personal efforts to help and will continue those.

"He does intend to make a personal contribution at the appropriate time," she said.

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