Quinn defends at-risk program amid criticism

Aug 12, 2014

Governor Pat Quinn's administration defends spending millions on a program to help at-risk youth, but Republicans are suspicious.  They say it looks like another incarnation of a different program that's under investigation by federal prosecutors.  

 Quinn has been dogged by allegations over the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which basically involved the state giving out grants to community groups to help quell Chicago violence.But GOP lawmakers are suspicious -- that it was either mismanaged, or used to help Quinn's last campaign for governor.

Quinn's office says it was disbanded years ago.

 Now, a group of Republicans say they fear it's again rearing its head by a different name -- through a $20 million lump sum -- allocated in the budget they opposed -- to the Department of Labor.

 House Republican Leader Christine Radogno:

 "What we're asking today from the governor's office is exactly what it will be used for … and what are the safeguards in place to make sure that we don't have a repeat of NRI."

A spokesman for the governor’s office says it has been upfront: just over $11 million so far is going toward a youth job-training program that was in place before the NRI, and that it's surprising the Republican leaders of the General Assembly would be against that.