SPRINGFIELD - Following his message to reform state government, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today presented a Fiscal Year 2005 operations budget for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) that will make the Department more streamlined and effective.
The proposed budget is largely a maintenance plan, which includes a few increases that are driven by federal funds for traffic safety initiatives and statutory changes for public transportation. On the federal side, the Department's budget includes $8 million for the enactment of the primary seat belt law. Other traffic safety initiatives will include safety education, drunk and impaired driving campaigns, and technical support for local agencies throughout the state in an effort to decrease the number of accidents, fatalities and injuries on Illinois highways. In terms of statutory increases, FY 05 appropriations for public transportation will increase $20 million to cover increased debt service payments for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
In addition to support for the RTA, the Governor will continue his commitment to public transportation by funding a $5.4 million increase for the Metro East public transportation system and by continuing his $12.1 million commitment to Amtrak for operating state-sponsored trains between Chicago and Carbondale, Quincy, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.
IDOT will implement a number of internal reforms next year to improve efficiency and consolidate functions. Major changes will include moving select administrative functions into the central office and reorganizing operations agency-wide. IDOT will also take over all railroad oversight functions in FY 05 as 24 Illinois Commerce Commission employees are merged into the agency. This merger will consolidate all railroad functions at IDOT.
The Department will continue to increase efficiency and save taxpayer dollars by analyzing and improving procurement procedures and practices. One of the key budget initiatives of FY 05 will be to implement a pilot program in District 1 that will utilize private vehicle parts suppliers to reduce the need for standing inventories. IDOT will also improve its inspection checks to ensure material invoices from suppliers match the quantities of materials delivered. These are simple reforms that will save thousands of dollars.
"The budget that Governor Blagojevich is proposing is lean and reflects the economic realities we are faced with today, while at the same time allowing IDOT to move forward," Transportation Secretary Timothy W. Martin said. "We will continue to be good stewards of the state's finances and do more with less to ensure that transportation in Illinois is safe, efficient and cost-effective."