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Dillard Tours Renovated West Wing

Today while we were on the capitol grounds, we bumped into Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who has an office in the renovated west wing. Today, he got to see the nearly-completed renovations firsthand: including the copper doors, chandeliers, and statues that each cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Despite the fact that the architect's board has staffers from leaders of both parties in both chambers, he said rank-and-file members were not aware of the expenses of many of those items until recently. He said he wants to see elected officials themselves get more involved in the process.

"Elected officials, for better or for worse, do have sometimes a better feel than staff members, because we walk precincts, we're out there talking to people on a day-to-day basis," Dilalrd said. "I think if there were more elected officials involved with the actual construction with the architect, somebody, an adult, might have said, 'this does not look good at this time, when the state can't pay its own bills.'"

Dillard is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Treasurer Dan Rutherford has described the copper doors as "abundantly unreasonable."

We reached out to the other contenders in that race: Sen. Bill Brady and Bruce Rauner. They have not gotten back to us.

We also attended the architect of the capitol's board meeting today. Architect J. Richard Alsop defended the renovation project, noting that it was part of Gov. Pat Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now program. That program was approved by both the governor and the general assembly in 2009.