In perhaps the most visible sign the state has emerged from the darkness of a more than 2-year-long budget impasse, the lights illuminating the Illinois State Capitol dome were switched on Tuesday night for the first time since 2015.
Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Henry Haupt confirmed the return of the lights, which were shut off due to the impasse as the state fell as much as $12 million behind on its City Light, Water and Power tab.
According to the Illinois Comptroller’s office, the amount the state owes to CWLP is now down to about $2.2 million with the oldest voucher dated July 1, which is within the 2- to 3-month lag time the state is currently paying its bills.
The dome lights have been upgraded to LED, which significantly reduces electrical costs. The Secretary of State’s office, which maintains the Capitol Complex, estimates that the cost comes out to about $4.33 per day, or just under $1,600 per year.
The new lights are expected to cost about four times less in electricity than the old lights and are expected to last more than 25 years, Haupt said.
The lack of lights had become a symbol of a state in the dark as years went by without a budget. The only times the outside was illuminated were when the holiday lights were up.
In 2015, Secretary of State Jesse White announced the annual holiday tradition would be spiked to save the $7,300 it would cost in electricity bills. That year, Springfield was still able to enjoy the lights after the Basic Crafts Council of Mid-Central Illinois, a coalition of labor unions, donated the money. The state would pay for the holiday lights in subsequent years.
“The lights work to illuminate the nation’s tallest state Capitol dome, a long-standing tradition that celebrates our democracy,” Haupt said.