SPRINGFIELD – Continuing his commitment to fiscal discipline, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich unveiled his capital spending plan for Fiscal Year 2005. The Governor’s $10.1 billion capital budget for next fiscal year represents a new way of doing business that focuses resources in core areas including transportation, economic development and school construction yet reduces overall spending over Fiscal Years 2004 and 2003 budgets.
As part of his capital plan, the Governor announced the state will accelerate $200 million of the $500 million dedicated in FY05 for the Opportunity Returns road construction program, in an aggressive effort to create thousands of new jobs this Summer. The $200 million accelerated investment is estimated to generate 4,800 jobs in FY05.
“The Fiscal Year 2005 Capital Budget submitted to the Illinois General Assembly targets the state’s scarce capital resources on strategic priorities, such as transportation, education, economic development to create jobs, build schools, and better protect the environment and our communities,” Governor Blagojevich said. “At the same time, this budget reflects a new fiscal discipline that reduces overall spending over Fiscal Years 04 and 03 budgets.”
The Governor also cited that this year’s capital plan “strikes a balance” between spending needs for multi-year projects and instilling fiscal discipline in the budget—a budget that pays for our state’s priorities, yet represents a reduction in overall spending over FY04 and FY03. While capital budget spending increased by 93% between FY99 and FY02, the proposed FY05 budget represents a reduction of $359 million over FY04 and $1.47 billion over FY03.
The Governor’s FY05 Capital Budget, based on fiscal reality, will allow the state to meet its’ obligations to local communities and to the citizens of Illinois. The capital spending plan re-appropriates $6.9 billion for continuing projects and appropriates $3.2 billion in new projects.
Opportunity Returns is the Governor’s innovative and aggressive regional approach to restoring economic opportunity throughout Illinois. Because each of the ten Illinois regions has a unique and distinct identity, Opportunity Returns makes local investments that pay significant economic dividends to the state. As part of Opportunity Returns, the Governor is committing $2 billion over the next five years to transportation projects, including $500 million in FY05 alone. The Illinois Department of Transportation estimates that every $1 million spent on construction projects creates 24 jobs. In addition to the 4,800 jobs created by the accelerated construction program, the remainder of the Governor’s $1.5 billion commitment to construction projects over the next five years will equate to 36,000 jobs.
“Like so many states, we are fighting to bring good paying jobs back to Illinois,” the Governor said. “We can no longer wait for the Federal government to take action on their Transportation bill, hoping it will spur the kind of job creation our families need. Instead, we will use the authority available to us to speed up state-funded road programs through Opportunity Returns and bring thousands of new jobs on-line this Summer.”
Governor Blagojevich also is making Opportunity Returns investments in his capital spending plan for job training and education, technology, and business expansion initiatives.
“Opportunity Returns and the targeted projects and initiatives in this capital budget will put men and women to work,” Governor Blagojevich said. “That’s what this is all about, creating opportunities for the people of Illinois to earn decent livings and build better lives.”
Rebuilding Our Schools
Also in the capital plan for FY05, Governor Blagojevich renewed and strengthened the state’s commitment to rebuilding and renovating deteriorating schools through a $550 million school construction program. This includes $500 million dollars for school construction and $50 million in maintenance grants. This allows $150 million worth of projects in 24 different school districts to move forward that did not receive funding during previous fiscal years. School districts elsewhere in the state will have the opportunity to submit applications for the remainder of the construction dollars. In all, Chicago Public Schools will receive $100 million in school construction dollars, with $400 million going to downstate schools.
A new component in capital spending budget plan is the reinstatement of the School Maintenance Grant Program. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) created the School Maintenance Grant Program in 1999. But, ISBE has not funded the program since Fiscal Year 2000. Governor Blagojevich’s plan for FY05 will make $50 million available to assist school districts in maintaining their facilities. School districts will have the opportunity to apply for state grants up to $50,000 and they will be required to match the state commitment with a local commitment.
“No matter how bad the economy has been or how challenging our budgets are, we will not ignore our schools, we will not ignore our children and we will keep on investing in the things that matter the most,” Blagojevich said. “This capital budget does that. It sends a message to
everyone, especially to our children, that there’s nothing more important to us than their future.”
Continuing his commitment to strengthening the state’s defenses from terrorist attacks or other disasters, Governor Blagojevich earmarked dollars in the capital budget for several public safety projects. The FY05 plan includes funding, with a 75 percent federal match, for a new $12 million State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). The new facility, set to be operational in Fall of 2005, will bring together several of the state’s response resources under one roof.
Also in the capital budget is $2.5 million to design a new state-of-the-art Illinois State Police Forensic Science Laboratory. The $19.5 million dollar lab in Metro East will greatly improve the State Police’s ability to analyze a wide range of forensic evidence including DNA. The center is slated to be operational in 2006 and will affirm the Illinois State Police as the second largest network of criminal forensic labs in the county, after the FBI.
Positioning Illinois as a national model, Governor Blagojevich’s Capital Budget earmarks funding to construct a 200-bed specialized unit at Sheridan Correctional Center. The unit will provide intensive vocational education and job preparedness training for inmates who have successfully completed 12 months of drug treatment. The $11.75 million project will be funded in large part by a $9.25 million federal grant. Upon completion, the Sheridan drug prison and re-entry program will be the largest, state-operated, fully dedicated drug prison and re-entry program in the Nation.
“The Sheridan project is about making Illinois communities safer places to live,” the Governor said. “By constructing what will be a national model, the state is maximizing both state and federal resources to move offenders away from a vicious cycle of crime and drug abuse and into honest jobs.”
Strengthening Our Commitment to Agriculture, Conservation
In the Department of Agriculture, Governor Blagojevich allocated $10.4 million in capital improvement and maintenance funds for the State Fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin in an effort to make the venues more attractive for the upcoming fairs and to help lure more non-fair events. The capital spending plan also includes $5.4 million to complete a horse barn addition on the fairgrounds in Springfield.
Governor Blagojevich also makes a sizeable commitment to Illinois’ natural resources in the FY05 Capital Budget. Among the state’s efforts in environmental protection, restoration and enhancement and public health/safety improvements at state parks, the Governor allocates $10 million to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. The federal-state conservation program provides financial incentives and assistance to landowners in an effort to restore highly erodible lands along the Illinois River and its tributaries. The budget allows appropriates $7.9 million to the Conservation 2000 program, a partnership program between the state and local groups that restores and enhances forests, wetland and prairie habitats throughout Illinois. The state will also continue to protect Chicago’s lakefront from erosion by earmarking $6.7 million to restore the segment of the lakefront from Montrose to Irving Park Road. The FY05 commitment is one part of a multi-year, $43 million project that targets one-third of the city’s
shoreline that was in danger of collapse. All in all, the Governor is committing $122 million in
new capital dollars to the Department of Natural Resources.
Finally, fulfilling a promise he made to shed more light on the state’s capital spending plan, Governor Blagojevich’s capital program is consolidated into one document. For the first time in the history of the state’s capital program and to improve understanding and accountability, members of the General Assembly will consider the capital budget in one bill.
“I promised to provide more sunshine to the state’s capital budget process,” Governor Blagojevich said. “The people and legislators of Illinois now have a document that clearly outlines the state’s entire capital program, including ongoing projects and new priorities for the next Fiscal Year. This is my proposal. Now, I look forward to working directly with members of the General Assembly to finalize a capital spending plan to move Illinois forward.”