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Illinois borrows millions for building despite budget mess

Illinois borrowed $550 million Thursday for construction projects, taking advantage of historically low interest rates as the state approaches one full year with a budget.
Gov. Bruce Rauner's office announced the bond sale to Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a bidding process that offered Illinois a 3.74 percent interest rate — the lowest in Illinois history for similarly situated general obligation bonds, a spokeswoman said.
A bond expert noted the entire market is operating amid all-time low interest rates and Illinois could have done better were it in better fiscal shape.
What's worse, much of the loan — $330 million earmarked for mass transit improvements, $200 million for road construction, and $20 million for other brick-and-mortar projects — can't be spent without legislative authorization. The Republican governor and Democrats who hold majorities in both houses of the General Assembly haven't agreed on an overall spending plan for a year.
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