* Background is here if you need it. Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) has little patience for those in his caucus who are slamming legislators who stuck their necks out on the capital bill…
Unlike those who voted against the capital bill so as not to soil their political hands by going on record as being willing to pay for those projects, yet who no doubt will celebrate when it comes time to break ground on them, I voted for that [Motor Fuel Tax] increase.
That vote was made somewhat easier because in 2016, almost four out of every five voters approved the Transportation Lockbox Amendment to our state Constitution, mandating that gas taxes only be spent on infrastructure.
We’ve seen what decades of neglect have done to our roads. Illinois’ infrastructure chickens have come home to roost, and anyone who tells you that all of this can be done by cutting spending elsewhere or waiting another 10 years for another capital bill is living in a dream world. I could not in good conscience expect $266 million to be spent in District 63 on such sorely needed projects and then ask everyone else in the state to pick up the tab.
Illinois stands at the center of the nation’s transportation system. Our roads, rails, airports and rivers carry more traffic than any other state in the Union. Illinois’ economy cannot grow without first-rate infrastructure. But it all comes at a price, and that bill needs to be paid.
* Meanwhile, you may recall this passage from the op-ed published by those eight House Republicans who denounced the infrastructure program…
As fiscally responsible Republicans, we should be talking about why the state needs such a higher percentage of our money to deal with infrastructure. Why does it cost so much more per mile to build roads and bridges in Illinois compared to many other states?
Like so often is the case, in Illinois we suffer under heavy mandates and an adversarial regulatory environment that drives costs upward. We have onerous prevailing wage rates and our taxpayers potentially pay up to five times what taxpayers in neighboring Indiana pay for workers’ compensation.
Road construction workers do make a good living here - when they’re working. Workers’ comp is a real problem. And our regulations could always use a revamp.
* But there’s a certain glass houses argument that can also be made. For instance, Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) received almost $1.9 million in federal farm subsidy payments between 1995 and 2017. Another household member received $1.2 million during the same time period.
And Rep. Chris Miller (R-Oakland) received about $794K in farm subsidies in that same timeframe.
I, for one, do not begrudge those folks one penny of their federal subsidies. Then again, I also don’t have a real problem with road construction workers who can make enough money to send their kids to college.
* Illinois to pay for long-sought MetroLink extension to MidAmerica Airport: The extension would link the existing Shiloh-Scott station to the airport, which is in Mascoutah. Now, shuttle buses run between the two. Construction could take 18 months, he said.