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An unusual request for bipartisanship

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013

* Senate President John Cullerton was in Quincy earlier this week and was asked by the local media about a new capital bill. Money from the last capital bill is just about all spent, and infrastructure needs persist. Cullerton said he’d be in favor of a new proposal next spring, but only with certain conditions

“As long as Republicans are willing to sit down and talk about those things I am as well,” Cullerton said.

He said one hurdle would be coming up with revenue to pay off bonds to cover the construction projects. The 2009 capital program relied on liquor taxes, gambling revenues and other fees or taxes. It gained Republican votes, but tax increases have generally been opposed by the GOP.

“We have to pass it out of both chambers. There’ll be a governor’s race going on. We’d have to have bipartisan support, perhaps even from the two people running for governor,” Cullerton said.

“If that can happen and the politics can be put aside, even though it’s an election year, it’s something that I’d be very much in favor of.”

Getting both legislative parties involved in a capital bill negotiation isn’t extremely difficult because just about everybody wants infrastructure upgrades for their districts. But convincing both gubernatorial candidates to sign off on a capital bill and its funding mechanisms would be quite something to see.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 9:42 am:

    Can’t see it happening.

  2. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 9:44 am:

    Less a request, than an accurate sharing of responsibility when it doesn’t get done.

    We just ain’t got the money, or the means to pay off more debt.

  3. - Darienite - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    ==Can’t see it happening.==
    At least until after the election.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 9:46 am:

    About February 2015, this will get huge support. The next 14 months or so, it may be difficult to cobble 30 & 60, even with bipartisan support.

    Tough sledding…

  5. - Bob Gough - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 9:55 am:

    Video of his remarks here:

  6. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 9:56 am:

    === The 2009 capital program relied on liquor taxes, gambling revenues and other fees or taxes. ===

    Those revenue sources haven’t disappeared. They are still in full effect.

    If that revenue isn’t going towards funding another capital bill, where will it be diverted instead?

    We developed funding sources for a capital bill in 2009. Those funding sources are still there. Why would we suddenly need additional, new ones?

    What am I missing here?

  7. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 9:58 am:

    –What am I missing here?–

    Those revenue sources are dedicated to paying off the bonds that were issued.

  8. - Norseman - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:08 am:

    Willy, are you up to participating in the negotiations?

  9. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    @wordslinger - thanks for the reply, as usual. Perhaps you can help me a bit more?

    I understand the general principle. We sell bonds and then use the immediate proceeds from those bonds to finance our construction efforts while we pay off those bonds.

    For example, that lets us start a 5 or 10 year construction project immediately and pay off that debt as we work. It makes sense.

    What I don’t understand is why we can’t just repeat the same process again this time around?

    The bonds for that particular 5-10 year project should have been paid off by now, and those revenue streams freed up for new projects, right?

    Unless we’re mortgaging ourselves to the hilt…

  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    ===where will it be diverted instead?===

    The revenue won’t be diverted, the money will be used to pay off bonds.

  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    Thanks for the video, Mr. Gough.

  12. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    - Norseman -,

    “I would look forward to working with the four leaders, and do my share of the lifting, ensuring a bipartisan Capital Bill. Doing what needs to be done is not a Democrat or Republican ‘thing’, it’s an ‘Illinois’ thing, which also includes a logical and sound way to pay for the improvements, with agreement. I look forward to doing my part, and whatever I need to do.”

  13. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    FKA, I believe some of the bonds in question are 20 year.

  14. - PoolGuy - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:21 am:

    it was a nice thought. now go home and get your shine box

  15. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    Thank you, @wordslinger.

    There is a good breakdown here:, among other sources.

    My confusion comes into play by viewing this from a “household” perspective. I know I have to pay my mortgage and home equity loans off before using that money to pay something else.

    In this case, it sounds like the state’s mentality is to take out a 30 year mortgage for a house.

    Then an equity loan for rehabbing the house, before the mortgage is paid off.

    Then another equity loan for overhauling the driveway, landscaping and kitchen appliances.

    All before the mortgage or first equity loan is paid off.

    From a financial perspective, that just sounds absolutely crazy. Maybe that’s just the way things work, but it doesn’t seem sustainable.

    I assumed the state’s mentality was more along the lines of: identify a project –> fund the project with bonds –> complete the project work –> pay the bonds –> use the newly freed money to pay for another project.

    As the bonds and projects budgeted for 10, 20 or even 30 years ago are completed and paid for, those revenue sources should be coming free to use for new projects.

    It just seems crazy to take a 30 year mortgage, then another and another and another, before you have any of them paid off.

    From a family, personal and business mentality, the guiding principle is usually somewhat opposite: pay off the first mortgage, then you can use that money to take out another one.

    Regardless, thanks again to @word, @Rich, and anyone else who cares to weigh in. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

  16. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    “If that revenue isn’t going towards funding another capital bill”

    It’s obligated for a long time, probably 30 years. You want more bonds? Then you have to commit to a new revenue stream. Revenues from expiring bonds are not likely large enough to allow the issuance of new bonds, not to mention that the state is short of funds for everything else.

  17. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 11:22 am:

    This November 18 Washington Post piece on Chicago is a good example of my concern and confusion:

    “Already, the city is paying more interest than it is repaying principal on general obligation bond debt. But those extra payments pale in comparison to the money the city has already allocated — and now owes.”

    I knew things were getting bad.

    But for all the criticism and trashing politicians take, I never fully believed they could be so short-sighted, selfish and ignorant when planning for the future of those they lead.

    Crazy. And reckless.

  18. - Sinking Ship - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 12:54 pm:

    Borrow and spend. Borrow and spend. When will it ever end?

  19. - PoolGuy - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    unless you want roads, buildings, bridges, locks and dams, schools to crumble and fall apart. “when will it end?” never…

  20. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    Good analogy, FKA. Happy Thanksgiving, AA

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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