* Thursday press release…
Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza’s office today is releasing $14.7 million that has been held up for years for improvements at Chicago Rockford International Airport.
The airport’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility opened years ago. The state’s share of the cost was tied up by the state budget impasse that paralyzed Springfield for two years. The airport was paying up to $100,000 a month on interest payments to cover the state’s share while Springfield tried to get its act together.
“The people of the Rockford area have waited long enough for the money they were promised for the Chicago Rockford International Airport,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “Keeping our transportation facilities competitive and modern is a priority, and so is keeping our promises.”
Former Gov. Bruce Rauner visited the airport in June 2018 and said the money was on the way. On Wednesday, the voucher arrived in the Comptroller’s office from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, and it is being processed and issued today.
It is important to note that this funding is not part of the new $45 billion Build Illinois capital construction program; the $14.7 million is coming from old capital funds that were approved years ago.
* Register Star…
The funding was frozen in 2015 by Quinn’s successor, former Gov. Bruce Rauner, amid a budget impasse with lawmakers. State Sen. Steve Stadelman included a $14.7 million appropriation for the airport grant in a budget bill approved by lawmakers last year.
“Our airport is major driver of economic development in the region,” Stadelman said in news release Thursday. “It is important the state honor its commitment, as the airport continues to expand operations and grow in prominence.”
The $14.7 million represents the state’s contribution to the airport’s $40 million maintenance, repair and overhaul center, which opened in 2016. The airport leases the twin-hangar facility to AAR Corp., a Wood Dale-based company that is a global leader in the aircraft maintenance and repair industry.
* Meanwhile, on a related note…
Legislation sponsored by State Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) to ensure stable funding for County Cooperative Extension programs, such as 4-H, is now law. House Bill 2264 clarifies language in state statute to ensure funds intended to support extension programs cannot be withheld by the state. The bill was signed into law by the Governor last week.
When the bill passed unanimously in the House back in April, Weber said, “Speaking from my personal experience with our local extension, I can tell you how beneficial these programs are to our youth and our communities. House Bill 2264 is very simple, one word simple in fact, but this one word change will have a major impact on ensuring our extension programs have the stability and security they need to continue their good work.”
As Weber noted, HB 2264 simply changes one word in state law, but by changing this one word, it ensures uniformity between the County Cooperative Extension Law and the Civil Administrative Code. Due to vagueness in previous law, funds meant for the State Cooperative Extension Trust Fund, which helps fund extension programs, was not being regularly deposited. The new uniformity created through HB 2264 means the fund will no longer be shortchanged and stability will be guaranteed for local extension programs.