* A Midwest High Speed Rail Association blast e-mail to supporters…
Tell Gov. Pritzker the capital bill needs more trains and transit!
Springfield is debating the capital bill right now.
Several weeks ago, Illinois Senator Martin Sandoval introduced legislation for a major transportation package that could lead to more trains around Illinois and the Midwest by significantly rethinking the way the state funds and selects projects.
Last week, Governor Pritzker released his own proposal for a “capital bill,” but it lacks some of the critical advantages of Sen. Sandoval’s proposal, and instead opts for “business as usual.”
Please click here to send a message to the Governor
Sen. Sandoval’s proposal includes the creation of a sustainable, dedicated fund for transit that sets aside money every year for things like track upgrades for better Metra and Amtrak service. Knowing that these funds would be available into the future would make it easier to plan and execute the sort of large-scale, transformational projects we need to bring high-speed rail to the Midwest.
Gov. Pritzker’s proposal only contains a few one-time allocations for certain transit projects, leaving trains and transit to an uncertain future of relying on one-off legislative appropriations. A good solution would be to dedicate 30% or more of new state transportation revenue to trains and transit.
Sen. Sandoval’s proposal also included a requirement that major projects be evaluated and prioritized based on a broad range of data-driven, measurable factors like environmental impact, economic development, and safety. This would make it much easier for trains to compete with traditional highway projects, but Gov. Pritzker’s proposal lacks this forward-thinking requirement.
Finally, Sen. Sandoval’s proposal indexes the gas tax and other transportation user fees to inflation, ensuring these revenue sources do not effectively degrade over time as they do today. Gov. Pritzker’s proposal does not index to inflation, meaning the state will find itself back in the same funding squeeze ten or so years from now.
Illinois has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make it easier to get around and significantly reduce our carbon impact by setting a transportation policy that favors investing in trains and transit. Instead, the Pritzker administration is pushing a retrograde approach that would only further entrench Illinois and the Midwest’s reliance on cars and highways.
We’ve made it easy to send a message to Gov. Pritzker. Time is running out on Illinois’ legislative session, so act now!
* Meanwhile, here’s Kristen McQueary…
Nearly two years ago, voters in Cook County rebelled against taxation. It was a rare galvanization.
Overtax our income, we’ll shrug. Overtax our property, we’ll acquiesce. But add 68 pennies to a bottle of soda and you’ve unleashed a “Game of Thrones”-style Battle of Winterfell, a thousand Arya Starks with dragonglass daggers and steely eyes.
R.I.P., soda tax of 2017. Even Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle realized she would have to pry bottles of Mountain Dew from Cook County taxpayers’ cold dead hands before they would back down.
And yet, where is the swell of opposition to broader, deeper, more impactful taxation? Gov. J.B. Pritzker, now in the final, frenzied days of the spring legislative session, is pushing a $41.5 billion bricks-and-mortar capital program that would hike taxes on top of the tax hikes in his budget proposal. Remember that columnist a few weeks ago who advised taxpayers to guard their wallets? Yes, that was me. I told you so. […]
The state of Illinois — we taxpayers — are still paying for projects built in the mid-1980s through bond programs. We’re still paying for former Gov. George Ryan’s “Illinois FIRST” program, for pension bonds sold during the last 15 years to make ends meet, for former Gov. Pat Quinn’s infrastructure bill. We still can’t pay vendors on time for services they perform for the state, and we are paying off bonds we bought to cover those day-to-day costs. But what the heck. Let’s see how much more debt we can accumulate.
The need for the pop tax and the use of its revenues were never adequately defined by Preckwinkle. Capital projects cost money, and this isn’t Washington, DC where we can just borrow without worrying about ever paying it back. You want your road fixed? Pay up.
With that being said, I’m not loving the idea of borrowing money for 20 years for infrastructure repairs that won’t last as long as the bond payments. What the governor has proposed is six years of projects financed with bonding and tax hikes that will last much longer than the construction. I’d personally be more comfortable with more pay-go.
…Adding… The late Chuck Sweeny’s final column was a lament that no projects for his beloved Rockford were listed in the governor’s capital plan outline…
I’m surprised — but maybe I shouldn’t be — that Gov. JB Pritzker’s $41.5 billion, six-year capital spending plan listed no transportation projects for the greater Rockford area west to the Mississippi River. […]
Now these aren’t the only northern Illinois projects that will be funded should the governor’s plan pass, but I sure would have liked to see the greater Rockford area included in the initial plan he released Friday.
I am hopeful that the $14.7 million the state owes the Chicago Rockford International Airport for the state’s share of funding for the $41 million AAR maintenance, repair and overhaul hangars will come through should this plan pass.
Once again, Quinn promised the money in 2014; Rauner put it on hold in 2015 when he and the General Assembly couldn’t agree on a budget for two years. To get the hangars built on time and on budget, the airport took out a $17 million line of credit from five local banks in 2015 and is paying $80,000 a month in interest.
The governor’s plan provides $70 million for “aeronautics.”
* Northern Illinois leaders write letter to Gov. Pritzker asking for support at Rockford Airport
* Tax on Beer and Internet Streaming Proposed
* BGA: Lawmakers should seek reasonable registration bump for electric vehicles
* Gov. Pritzker’s capital plan proposes $57M for Route 47 in McHenry County