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Republicans blame Democrats for their own diversion idea

Monday, Dec 4, 2017

* Decatur Herald & Review

Six months after lawmakers hastily passed their first state budget in two years, transportation advocates are sounding the alarm on a little-noticed item that will take $300 million from road repairs to pay other expenses each year. […]

The result, transportation advocates say, is a fatal blow to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s construction schedule that was already struggling to keep up with deteriorating roads and bridges. After the budget passed, IDOT’s planned highway improvements went from 400 miles of work to 189, a fraction of the more than 3,500 miles of state roads currently in need of reconstruction across Illinois. […]

Most of the diverted money is paying for bonds that were used to make already-completed improvements to the Regional Transit Authority, which serves public transit in the Chicago area.

* Check out the carefully worded responses to Cullerton’s claim here

“The idea for this came from the Senate Republicans on behalf of the Rauner administration,” said John Patterson, spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady’s office responded in an email. “This was a proposal that Democrats adopted, put in their budget and passed mostly with Democrat votes in the Illinois Senate.”

A spokeswoman for Rauner said Brady’s proposal as the lead Republican budget negotiator included $180 million from the road fund to pay for RTA bond payments. “The Democrats’ enacted FY18 budget, which Gov. Rauner vetoed, increased this cost shift to approximately $300 million,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Tomev said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Norseman - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    The proverbial wanting your cake and eating it too. This is will be repeated throughout Rauner’s disingenuous campaign. He will rail against a tax hike he knew was needed. With the rate set at a level proposed by Rauner. Resulting in a budget built in large part on the assumptions put forward by Rauner’s GOMB.

  2. - Sue - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    One more example of pension obligations starving other needs but Madigan won’t even help out on the AFSCME contract

  3. - anon2 - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    It’s not a matter of principle about never robbing the Road Fund. Both parties supported diversion, and they’re just quibbling about the amount.

  4. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:47 am:

    I take it the money that was diverted was additional money and not money subject to the lock box amendment

  5. - cdog - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 10:48 am:

    “IDOT’s planned highway improvements went from 400 miles of work to 189, a fraction of the more than 3,500 miles of state roads currently in need of reconstruction across Illinois.”

    This is the view on the Road to Insolvency.

  6. - phocion - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:02 am:

    When 80% of the public says politicians need to stop diverting money, politicians should listen. Bill Brady and John Cullerton are trying to be too clever by half. While this was a legal “diversion” to a mode of transportation, this is hardly what voters wanted when they overwhelmingly passed the lockbox amendment.

  7. - Rich Miller - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:09 am:

    === this is hardly what voters wanted ===

    Speak for yourself. Public transportation is transportation. Stop paying for it and see what happens to the length of your daily work commute.

  8. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    -anon2- has it right, this is a failure of leadership from all parties. It really isn’t that difficult to run a state if you focus on the right things. Infrastructure, helping those who can’t care for themselves, education, and fair application of law. But if you are more concerned with power and money you end up with what Illinois has morphed into over the past generation. Everyday brings yet another example of leadership failure (and by that I mean the Senate, House of Representatives and Governor) in Illinois. It has been clear to see for decades that this was the path we were on but we keep electing the same self-serving or clueless people to office. So in the end whose fault is this? It’s the fault of the voters in Illinois. That is harsh but it is true. And it still doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future so gird your loins for additional tax increases, flat economic growth and outsized government employee contracts. Welcome to the next 200 years of Illinois. (I’d love to hear some candidate tout that vision of our state)

  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:20 am:

    Politicians of every stripe run on a platform devised by paid bs artists spouting ideas that will get them elected. What happens after they are elected is anybody’s guess. Look at Rauner as prime example.

  10. - Huh? - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    IDOT broke up the $300 mil as follows: $250 mil came from the State side and $50 mil from the locals. So it wasn’t just the State that is paying for this problem

  11. - phocion - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 11:33 am:

    ==Speak for yourself. Public transportation is transportation. Stop paying for it and see what happens to the length of your daily work commute.==
    Rich, I’m referring to the road fund picking up the tab for bond payments that were previously being paid out of GRF. Those kinds of gimmicks and budgetary sleights of hand are what voters detest.

  12. - Skeptic - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:08 pm:

    “Madigan won’t even help out on the AFSCME contract” Ok, I’ll bite…how does that have anything to do with the pension debt? Or this post for that matter?

  13. - Liandro - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    Degradation of infrastructure is a massive, yet partially hidden, liability that future generations will get handed. Pension debt and the unpaid bills get the most coverage, but crumbling infrastructure can slaughter a budget almost as quickly.

  14. - Sideline Watcher - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    When you insist on arbitrary tax rates because they sound good, I.e. 4.95 just cuz you don’t want to say 5 instead of a rate that actually does what it’s supposed to do, you have to come up with gimmicks like diversions. Neither party is telling the truth about what we really need to do to fix our financial mess of a situation.

  15. - SAP - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 1:56 pm:

    This is the allowable spending that the voters overwhelmingly approved when they voted for the lockbox amendment:
    (b) Transportation funds may be expended for the following: the costs of administering laws related to vehicles and transportation, including statutory refunds and adjustments provided in those laws; payment of highway obligations; costs
    for construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, and betterment of highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, airports, or other forms of transportation; and other statutory highway purposes.

  16. - Ron - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    Sue, at this point, pension payments are going to force spending cuts to other programs.

  17. - Ron - Monday, Dec 4, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    The roads in the Chicago area are generally fine. Certainly no worse than most large US cities. I have no idea what roads are like in rural IL though.

  18. - Lynn S. - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 7:10 am:

    @Ron 2:49

    As someone who goes to rural Southern Illinois to visit my family’s farm, I can tell you that roads and bridges in Southern Illinois need work.

    But that takes money, and the folks in those depopulating, Republican-voting, tax eating counties don’t want to pay taxes.

    So, what to do? (Besides hope that a bridge doesn’t fail as you drive over it.)

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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