* Kristen McQueary…
But even fiscally conservative Republicans tend to get behind big capital bills. Building roads and bridges and schools is what government is supposed to do. A well-run government can essentially competitively bid a bond sale, get a low interest rate and pay back the bonds with a dedicated revenue stream, like sales and income taxes, backed by the full faith and credit of the state, over 30 years.
But nothing is ever typical in Illinois. Pritzker wants to increase the state’s take at the pump from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents a gallon. That’s in addition to municipal taxes drivers already pay at the pump — Chicago and Cook County both charge extra — a motor fuel tax, an environmental impact tax and a regional transportation tax. This is why Illinois, and particularly Chicago, always outpaces other Midwestern states on fuel prices. It isn’t the price of the gasoline itself. It’s all the taxes folded into the pump price.
I wasn’t aware that basic sales or income taxes, which normally flow to GRF, are used as “dedicated” revenue streams for capital bills. You can most certainly bond using GRF money. It usually costs more without a dedicated stream, which would be separate from what normally flows into the general fund.
* Anyway, a number of states have raised their gas taxes in recent years. The US Chamber took a look at nine Republican-led state legislatures which hiked their gas taxes since 2016 (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia). In six of those states, Republicans have since faced the voters and were overwhelmingly reelected…
Apples and oranges probably, but still.
* Meanwhile, everybody wants more…
An infusion of $2.8 billion to Chicago-area mass transit agencies — to be doled out over six years under a capital plan proposed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker — is great, but not enough, a top transit official said this week.
The CTA, Pace and Metra need that much on a yearly basis, Kirk Dillard, head of the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the three transit agencies, said Monday.
The way the money is being generated — by selling state bonds— will not provide the stable footing the three transit agencies need for longterm planning and investment, RTA officials quickly noted as they perused an outline of Pritzker’s plan that was released over the weekend.
Standing in contrast to this are a litany of proposed new, vehicle-related taxes that will help produce $23 billion for roads and bridge projects and presumably keep bearing fruit beyond the scope of the six-year capital plan.
”If we make it more expensive to drive and we don’t fund transit at the same time, I think it’s unfair to the working people of the state of Illinois,” Dillard said during a speech at the City Club of Chicago. “You’ve got to give them freedom of movement.”
Metra is sitting on a billion dollars in bonding authority.
* Hands are out everywhere…
From outdoors enthusiasts to school superintendents, more Illinoisans are hopeful that Gov. J.B. Pritzker will sign a capital-spending bill, soon.
Locally, folks with some capital ideas include the La Salle elementary school board and a group of 30 northern Illinois residents who took a bus trip last week to Springfield to push for financial and perhaps staffing support for the Hennepin Canal.
One school’s need
Tuesday night, La Salle schools superintendent Brian DeBernardi said he is monitoring things to see if the district can get some aid for an impending, half-million-dollar asbestos-abatement and locker room remodeling and renovation project at Lincoln Jr. High.
“I hope they have matching grants for shovel-ready projects,” he told the school board members, noting that this project is one of them. He said he will notify all the people he needs to contact for the project, which the board is scheduled to vote on in June.
Lawmakers and advocates praised Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker for allocating funds for affordable housing in his proposed capital plan, but said Tuesday his proposal is not nearly enough to properly address the infrastructure need that exists in Illinois.
In a preliminary plan called “Rebuild Illinois” and shared with legislators Friday, the governor allocated $175 million to build and improve cost-effective housing options primarily for seniors, those who are homeless, and people with disabilities.
But Democratic Rep. Delia Ramirez and Sen. Mattie Hunter, both from Chicago, were joined by community leaders from across the state in calling for the General Assembly to allocate nearly six times that amount.
Allison Clements, executive director of the Illinois Housing Council, said increasing the level of funding available for permanent, supportive housing to $1 billion would provide a “golden opportunity.”