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A huge transit TIF bill passed yesterday

Friday, Jul 1, 2016

* This is kind of an odd story

State lawmakers on Thursday handed Mayor Rahm Emanuel broad authority to create special taxing districts to help pay for four major rail projects, but the mayor and his administration would not detail how much money would be diverted or how it would be spent.

The legislation, which lawmakers passed as part of a compromise on a stopgap state budget and an education funding bill, is designed to help City Hall come up with money it needs to match requirements to receive federal transportation grants and loans, Emanuel said.

But the measure also grants the mayor and City Council wide discretion to create the so-called tax-increment finance districts within a one-mile-wide swath of land along 46 miles of Chicago Transit Authority rail lines throughout the city. The districts, which could remain in place for up to 35 years, would siphon off 80 percent of property tax revenue within their boundaries (with the exception of taxes for Chicago Public Schools) and dedicate the money toward four major transit projects.

* Hmm. From Emanuel’s brief press statement…

Today marks the next chapter in the work we started shortly after I took office, to modernize the Red Line from 95th to Howard, and continue the process of extending it further south. With this bill, in just a few years we will have done what once seemed impossible, and we will improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people that rely on the Red Line as part of their daily life.

One could also read the bill.

Emanuel told reporters yesterday that this would allow the city to tap into $800 million of federal money for upgrading the Red and Purple lines and extend the Red Line south.

But at least they had something. No major media outlet did much of anything.

* Somebody else could’ve given them details, too. StreetsBlogChicago got some

A new bill that would generate more funding for four large-scale Chicago transit infrastructure projects, without diverting tax revenues from schools, passed the Illinois House and Senate today. The original bill was introduced in January 2015, spearheaded by the Metropolitan Planning Council. It awaits Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature, who is expected to sign a budget today after a year of operating the state without a budget for a year – reducing funding for transit agencies, schools, and social services.

The funding would come from “transit TIF districts” that would have boundaries extended up to a half mile around Chicago’s Union Station (to fund the changes in its master plan), the CTA’s North Side Main Line, the CTA’s Red Line extension, and the CTA’s Blue Line Congress branch modernization and possible extension. The bill enables the Chicago City Council to pass a similar law to create the actual districts, but sets limits on how far the districts can extend from the proposed projects’ area.

They would work much like existing TIF districts, where the property taxes assessed on any incremental increase in property values since a district’s inception is deposited in a separate fund. This is a form of value capture in that an increase in property values spurred by the transit infrastructure is used to help pay for it.

Other key differences are that the transit TIF districts would expire in 35 years instead of the originally-proposed 50, and that instead of a blanket maximum length of six miles, each district has a specific maximum length. Fifty years was proposed because that is the useful life of a transit facility.

* Like the blogger’s post says, it’s essentially a reworking of a bill that Greg Hinz detailed last year. I told subscribers about it yesterday morning and gave them a House Republican analysis. Here’s part of it

The transit TIF boundaries shall not exceed 9 miles and no more than 1⁄2 mile in any direction from the location of a mass-transit facility. “Your New Blue,” is a 4-year plan aimed to address the 25% ridership increase in the last 5 years. The project received $120 million in federal funding in 2015 to begin the first stage of the $492 million renovation. The initiative consists of upgrades for 13 blue line stations, which include changes to the following stations: Grand, Chicago Division, Damen, Western, California, Logan Square, Addition (completed in 2016), Jefferson Park, Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem, and Cumberland. Damen and California stations received rehabilitation in 2014. An estimated 1,300 construction, engineering, and design jobs will be created as a result of the project. […]

Blue Line Modernization: This is a 4-year plan aimed to address the 25% ridership increase in the last 5 years. The project received $120 million in federal funding in 2015 to begin the first stage of the $492 million renovation. The Blue Line Forest Park project is not eligible for large amounts of funding because of an IDOT collaboration along I-290.

The Red and Purple Line Modernization Program (RPM): The $570 bottleneck reconstruction is intended to enable CTA to service 7,200 additional costumers per an hour. Further construction includes modernizing the 90-year-old tracks between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr stops and adding disability modifications. Wilson and Clark/Division upgrades were completed in 2015. Total project cost is $1.9 billion for RPM. Although, RPM secured a Core Capacity Grant $900 million grant there is still a $711 million funding gap, which can be filled by an increased TIFIA Loan if a local funding source is identified.

Phase One includes the Red-Purple bypass, Lawrence to Bryn Mawr and signal reconfiguration. Construction starts in 2018 over a 4-year period and cost $2.1 billion. This specific project received a $1.2 million grant for a Transit-Oriented Development study. TIF increment will only cover 33% of the project for Phase One. Phase Two includes reconstruction from Thorndale to Howard over 4 years starting in 2022, with an estimated cost of $2.6 billion. Phase Three includes upgrades from Addison to Sheridan, Purple Line Howard to Linden, over 4 years starting in 2026. This project will need support from Evanston to incorporate Linden into proposed changes. Total cost projects to $3.2 billion, but without support of Evanston, its $1.5 billion.

Red Line Extension: In April 2014, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) secured $70 million in federal funding through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act toward a $240 million renovation for the 95th Red Line Terminal. CTA also secured a $20 million TIGER grant, which $16 million went toward the 95th terminal project.

* Related…

* Lawmakers approve extension of downtown Springfield TIF district

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      

Rauner talks about the deal

Friday, Jul 1, 2016

* Tribune

Faced with the awkward position of taking a victory lap over an outcome that wasn’t exactly what he had sought — and one that included none of his economic agenda — Rauner offered a jumbled assessment. He first hailed it as a “grand bargain” and a “grand compromise” before pivoting to a warning that the deal was incomplete and “not a solution to our long-term challenges.”

“This is not a budget. This is not a balanced budget,” Rauner said, standing outside his Capitol office surrounded by Republican lawmakers. “This is not a solution to our long-term challenges. This is a bridge to reform. That’s what this is.”

* NBC 5

“I believe, and I firmly hope, that right now we’ve hit the bottom,” Rauner said. “This is the low point in the evolution of Illinois and now we begin to move up. Growth, value for taxpayers, better schools and a political system that is responsive and actually making good decisions for the long-term health of the state.”

* Sun-Times

The governor lauded Republicans for Thursday’s compromise and gave credit to two Democrats — Senate President John Cullerton and Mayor Rahm Emanuel — for “creativity” and “flexibility.”

Rauner pointedly made no mention of Madigan. […]

And the governor stressed that he has not abandoned his push for “fundamental reforms,” which he argues are crucial to make Illinois economically competitive.

“Let’s be clear,” Rauner said of the stopgap budget. “This is just a small step in the process of making Illinois strong and healthy and vibrant. This is a small step in the right direction. … This is a bridge to reform.”

“Reforms are essential, and our efforts to get significant reform for the people of Illinois will never cease.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Trust issues go both ways

Friday, Jul 1, 2016

* I do not blame the Black Caucus for sticking up for their constituencies

Despite the relatively quick passage of budget bills by both chambers on Thursday, the day did have its share of trepidation and drama. House Republicans requested a caucus just before lawmakers were set to debate on the appropriations bill to get the state running for the rest of the year.

At issue was a last-minute amendment filed by some members of the Legislative Black Caucus to receive $9.3 million in grants for the minority teacher scholarships, for diversifying higher education faculty, the Grow Your Own Teacher Program, and for providers for bridge programs.

The person I blame is right at the top.

Speaker Madigan has said more than once that he has trust issues with Gov. Rauner. And then, after Madigan cut the final deal on the budget and they closed off all additions, he popped an amendment without any notice to the other side which added millions in spending.

How does that possibly help this climate?

If you always portray yourself as a man of your word, then keep your freaking word. Simple.

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      

Don’t break your arms patting yourselves on the back

Friday, Jul 1, 2016

* SJ-R

On Wednesday, newspapers across the state, including The State Journal-Register, ran front-page editorials saying enough was enough and that lawmakers needed to end the budget stalemate. [Rep. Tim Butler] said he “didn’t get a lot of input from folks necessarily, but I thought the papers did the right thing.” […]

Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, echoed Madigan and said lawmakers agreed on a spending plan “when we’re focused on a budget and not a lot of extraneous issues.”

He said the newspaper editorials didn’t generate additional calls to the office, but he criticized the idea because, he said, some of the same newspapers ran editorials that have also urged Rauner to not back down on his turnaround agenda.

“So the front-page editorials I found to be a bit hypocritical, quite frankly,” McCann said.

It was a nice little stunt, but by Wednesday morning things were already moving solidly in the right direction. Plus, I told subscribers a couple-three weeks ago that Madigan had told Rauner it was time to start working on a stopgap deal.

The one positive to come out of this is that the impasse finally opened some editorial writers’ eyes to both sides of this problem. They tend to treat politics like a cartoon, with one side being evil and the other side being righteous. We’ll see if that lasts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

“We certainly are not undoing the damage that we’ve done to this state by not working together, by not doing our jobs”

Friday, Jul 1, 2016

* Mark Brown

Sen. Donne Trotter, a Chicago Democrat, offered an appropriately sober assessment of the six-month stopgap state budget deal the Legislature approved Thursday.

Trotter, who helped craft the long overdue spending plan, advised his fellow lawmakers not to get carried away patting themselves on the back.

“This is just us doing our job. We’re making like it’s a special thing,” Trotter said.

Indeed, after 18 months without any sort of a budget while social service agencies and state universities withered on the vine, it was easy to get overly-excited about the compromise struck by Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats to keep the schools open another year and the government barely operating until January.

To that, I plead guilty as charged. In the cold light of day, the road ahead remains daunting for a state stuck in reverse. […]

The governor and the Legislature did their job Thursday, not as well as we might have liked but better than we’ve come to expect. No need to be grateful.


I’m very relieved that this nightmare will end for a few months, but it’s gonna start all over again in November.

* I, too, was impressed with Sen. Trotter’s remarks. Here’s more

“This isn’t really a stopgap. It’s more like a pressure release valve. We’re allowing people just to breathe a little bit more. But we certainly are not undoing the damage that we’ve done to this state by not working together, by not doing our jobs.

“This is a beginning. We have a long way to go. And we know we have to do it for human services, for K-12, we have to do it for higher education, we have to do it for ourselves. We have a lot of work to do.”

* I asked the SDems yesterday for the raw audio

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Rauner signs extension of medical marijuana program

Friday, Jul 1, 2016

* This got deliberately buried under yesterday’s big budget news

A bill extending Illinois’ medical marijuana program by 2½ years has been signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

In addition to extending the pilot program, the bill signed Thursday by Rauner adds PTSD and terminal illness to the list of qualifying conditions.

Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program got its start under former Gov. Pat Quinn and continued under Rauner, who for more than a year resisted expanding the program beyond the original 39 conditions and diseases listed in the law.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Ain’t so easy, is it?

Friday, Jul 1, 2016

* Remember in 2014 when the Democrats passed what was essentially a six-month budget, kinda like the one they just passed yesterday and was immediately signed into law? In case you don’t, this is from the May 31, 2014 edition of the Chicago Tribune

In the short term, however, the just-concluded spring session plays right into Rauner’s campaign message that taxpayers are the victims of a dysfunctional Springfield. Democrats couldn’t coalesce around a comprehensive budget to fund state government for a full 12 months, and House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton spent some time Friday settling old scores with Quinn, their party’s governor.

Rauner called the legislature’s spending plan a “phony budget.”

“The politicians in charge of Springfield again refused to make the structural reforms needed to fix state government. Instead, they passed the same type of broken, dishonest budget that career politicians in Illinois have been passing for years,” Rauner said in a statement.

But his campaign did not provide any specifics on what Rauner would have done differently, despite the candidate’s vow for months that he was developing plans on tax and budget policy that he has said will come “in due time.”

“In due time” never really has come.

* And here are a few dot points from Reboot at the time

The state is more than $5 billion behind in paying its bills.
It has the worst credit rating of any state.
It has the worst unfunded pension liability of any state.
There was not enough support for raising taxes, nor was their enough support for a doomsday budget. Still, lawmakers approved a $35.7 billion budget.
Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton acknowledge that this budget borrows $650 million from special funds that will drive up the bills taxpayers ultimately must fund.
This budget postpones paying $380 million state worker health insurance bills that taxpayers ultimately must fund.
This budget diverts $650 million in funds that had been going to pay down unpaid bills that taxpayers ultimately must fund.

They couldn’t get it done back then, just like they couldn’t get it done this year. And that 2014 list looks eerily similar to the stopgap which just passed, and the state of the state is, in several respects, worse off (or no better) than it was back then.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

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Friday, Jul 1, 2016

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* A huge transit TIF bill passed yesterday
* Rauner talks about the deal
* Trust issues go both ways
* Don't break your arms patting yourselves on the back
* "We certainly are not undoing the damage that we've done to this state by not working together, by not doing our jobs"
* Rauner signs extension of medical marijuana program
* Ain't so easy, is it?
* Yesterday's blog posts

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