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$1.1 billion “mini” capital bill moves through House

Friday, May 30, 2014

* Subscribers were kept abreast of this development yesterday

The Illinois House Thursday overwhelmingly passed a $1.1 billion road-and-bridge package stripped up of what the GOP characterized as pork as the spring legislative session neared a hectic end with several key issues still unresolved. […]

That plan passed the House by a 97-11 vote, with four members voting “present,” in a push sought by labor unions. That measure now heads to the Senate, which also has to vote on a budget Friday or Saturday. Separate legislation to fund the program is up for a House vote Friday. […]

The plan will be paid for, in part, through higher vehicle registration fees put in place in the late 1990s that were used to float construction bonds under former Gov. George Ryan. Some of those bonds have now been paid off by the state.

Led by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, Republicans forced the plan to be scaled back from a $1.6 billion package originally sought by House Democrats, arguing that the hundreds of millions of dollars that were stripped away could have been earmarked for no-strings-attached, election-year goodies.

* More

House Bill 3794 calls for $1.1 billion in construction spending, $1 billion of which would go to road and bridge projects included in IDOT’s 5-year plan. The bill does not list the projects because they would be determined by IDOT, but sponsor Rep. Luis Arroyo said that the department plans to prioritize projects that are ready to go during the summer construction season. The remaining $100 million would go to local street repair projects. The money for construction would come from funding sources approved as part of the 1999 Illinois First capital program. Borrowing for the plan has been paid off, but the increased fees and taxes remain. “Some of that debt has been retired. It’s been paid off, and the revenue stream that was used to support it is now available,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The plan passed with bipartisan support. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said that after the particularly harsh winter, the state’s roads need work. “Illinois roads were clobbered.” He said that while Republicans opposed other construction projects passed in the House yesterday, this pared-down plan is “responsible” because the spending will be decided by IDOT instead of legislators. “It’s a smaller bill, but this is going to get us through the end of the year.”

But some lawmakers questioned spending money that could otherwise go into the general revenue fund on a rushed capital bill that does not include anything other than road and bridge projects. “I think this is the wrong time to do this, and I think this is the wrong approach,” said Northbrook Democrat Rep. Elaine Nekritz. and Proponents argued that this plan can be accomplished now to get people to work in the coming months, and the issue of a larger capital plan could be revisited later. “Bottom line, this is going to put people to work. Those people will pay taxes, and some of those taxes will come to the state of Illinois,” said Madigan.

* More

Other members complained they did not know what road projects would be included in the program, although many lawmakers had copies of a project list provided to them by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said the program will focus on “shovel ready” projects that can be undertaken quickly. The projects are coming from IDOT’s five-year plan, which outlines both current road projects and those planned for the future. She said some of the future projects could get moved up under the program.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said the capital bill was scaled back from its original idea. At first, he said, it also contained $500 million for building projects other than roads.

“I had concerns with pork-barrel spending,” Durkin said. “We were not going to participate in a program with that type of discretionary spending.”

That part of the bill was removed, leaving only road and bridge projects, which Durkin supported.

You can see IDOT’s full five-year plan broken down into legislative districts by clicking here. Only some of those projects will be funded by this new capital bill.

* Legislators will have to trust IDOT to be fair. Check out the way that a billion of that $1.1 billion is appropriated

The sum of $1,000,000,000, or so much thereof 5 as may be necessary for statewide purposes, is appropriated from the Transportation Bond Series D Fund to the Department of Transportation for preliminary engineering and construction engineering and contract costs of construction, including reconstruction, extension and improvement of state and local highways, arterial highways, roads, access areas, roadside shelters, rest areas, and fringe parking facilities and sanitary facilities, and such other purposes as provided 1by the “Illinois Highway Code”; for purposes allowed or required by Title 23 of the U.S. Code; for bikeways as provided by Public Act 78-850; for land acquisition and signboard removal and control and preservation of natural beauty; and for capital improvements which directly facilitate an effective vehicle weight enforcement program, such as scales (fixed and portable), scale pits and scale installations and scale houses, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations for the state and local portions of the Road Improvement Program.

* House members voting “No” yesterday were

Kelly Burke, Scott Drury, Kay Hatcher, Fran Hurley, Jeanne Ives, Dwight Kay, Dave McSweeney, Tom Morrison, Elaine Nekritz, Sandi Pihos, Ann Williams.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


18 Comments
  1. - Roadiepig - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 9:29 am:

    Another exhibit for the upcoming Supreme Court to use to throw out Madigan’s “police powers” argument as the reasoning for cutting employee/retiree pensions and benefits.

    Yes we need road improvements- no question. But if you can yank 1.1 billion out of the budget even with the “temporary” tax increase expiring then you aren’t in a crisis , are you?


  2. - Commonsense in Illinois - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    Maybe we could get that services sign on I-55 in Bloomington that was knocked over and has been a twisted eyesore since LAST NOVEMBER removed…finally?


  3. - Ahoy! - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    So House Republicans want to trust a state department (IDOT) who has just faced criticism r overly political hires and reports tot he Governor is who running in a tough election?

    I just wanted to make sure I’m straight on that.

    Also, the State bonds way too much for road maintenance and ween itself off this habit. Bond for the big projects and pay-as-you-go for road maintenance. To help them slowly get back onto a rational maintenance program they could start by selling shorter bonds (10 years).


  4. - Give Me A Break - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 9:50 am:

    Roadie: The program uses money from bonds, not GRF, you are mixing apples and oranges.


  5. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    Nothing like election-year road and bridge projects funded by retired bond revenue streams to bring out a bipartisan kumbiyah moment.

    Why do I get the feeling the half billion of “pork” stripped from the bill was a WWE act engineered by Madigan and Durkin to give everyone “fiscal responsibility” cover?


  6. - Freddie Razzle - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    Only 5 Dems voting no means that Madigan didn’t need Durkin which means Durkin probably just got played.


  7. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    ===Madigan didn’t need Durkin===

    The bill required a three-fifths majority. Take a breath.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    ===Only 5 Dems voting no means that Madigan didn’t need Durkin which means Durkin probably just got played.===

    Um, no.

    You make it bi-partisan, and get something in the program, and by making it bi-partisan, Durkin can now use that chit for something he can ask Speaker Madigan for later.

    Big picture, please. This is more about something down the road than the vote cast.


  9. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    ===“pork” stripped from the bill was a WWE act engineered by Madigan and Durkin ===

    Nah. They put the pork in another bill.

    lol


  10. - A guy... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    Fix the roof on the mansion with with some of this. Even if you have to add an amendment. Last I checked, they know how to add amendments.


  11. - Norseman - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    Give Me A Break did you read the following from this post?

    === But some lawmakers questioned spending money that could otherwise go into the general revenue fund on a rushed capital bill that does not include anything other than road and bridge projects. “I think this is the wrong time to do this, and I think this is the wrong approach,” said Northbrook Democrat Rep. Elaine Nekritz. ===

    Sounds like Roadiepig did read it.


  12. - Just Me - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Nothing for transit?


  13. - Roadiepig - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    Thanks Norseman- and yes Give Me… I did see it was bond money. But unless I am mistaken those bonds are more highly protected than even vendors and the lowly pensioners. That is new spending that will have to paid off down the road.

    Point being- the state can still borrow money from the bond holders to pay for things the politicians want. These bonds are additional spending ( no matter how long the term to pay them off) and Madigan’s long preamble for SB1 said the state can not come up with enough money to even pay the bills the state already owes (pensions), let alone come up with revenue for new stuff. This is further prof that his premise is just an lame excuse to stiff retirees. Simple as that…


  14. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    == a $1.1 billion road-and-bridge package stripped up of what the GOP characterized as pork == That plan passed the House by a 97-11 vote == Republicans forced the plan to be scaled back from a $1.6 billion package originally sought by House Democrats ==

    Wow. Look at what happens when you actually include each other in the negotiating process. You work together and things actually get done.


  15. - A guy... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    True FKA. Also helps when it’s a decent piece of legislation that affects everyone.


  16. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:38 pm:

    –True FKA. Also helps when it’s a decent piece of legislation that affects everyone.–

    C’mon man, you don’t know what’s in the legislation, or have any way of judging the merits. It’s roads and bridges. Everyone gets a piece of the action.

    Seriously, do you think this was a statesmanlike moment? Everyone who voted for it made sure they had a project, and could care less about the necessity of the other projects or “the program” as a whole.

    Same as it ever was.


  17. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:57 pm:

    == you don’t know what’s in the legislation, or have any way of judging the merits ==

    Statehouse reporters and their sources know what was in the bill. The article says this was stripped of pork, and that is the reason this bill passed whereas the initial $1.6 billion bill was a non-starter. There must be some truth in that.


  18. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 8:59 pm:

    –Statehouse reporters and their sources know what was in the bill.–

    I love them all to death, and it’s beside the point, but I doubt it, but gimme those roads and bridge and I’m a sweet m-f bipartisan all day long.

    Hope it doesn’t hurt him coming from me, but kudos to Rep. Durkin. I think he has some game. Make me wish I was a Republican, again, player!

    There’s a rabid posse out there that has infected the national GOP that keeps them from wanting to accomplish n-e-thing.

    They’re nuts,and I don’t put up with that stuff from KNOW-BAh=DEE.

    This is the guy who happily voted for HW, Dole, Thompson, Edgar, and I have no place in the GOP?

    It’s crazy. I don’t understand it. I damn sure don’t respect it. And you better pack a lunch because it will be an all-day job before I stop howling.


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