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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2007

Blagojevich administration officials join lawmakers, labor and business leaders in Rockford to build support for Illinois Works
Plan supports 725,000 jobs statewide; delivers more than $260 million in capital funds for Rockford schools and roads and bridges, including widening IL Rt. 2 and the Freeport Bypass; New revenue stream also provides $30 million more in annual funding for Rockford schools

ROCKFORD – On behalf of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin was joined today by Rockford area legislators, labor and business leaders today in Rockford to build support for Illinois Works, the $25.4 billion capital plan approved unanimously on September 18th by the Illinois State Senate. For the Rockford area, that means $260 million for critical local projects. The bill will head to the Illinois House of Representatives when they reconvene for the fall legislative session beginning October 2nd. Gov. Blagojevich is urging members to work across party lines and pass the legislation, which will fund projects that are vital to keeping Illinois families safe and helping communities thrive.

The landmark Illinois Works building plan is expected to support more than 725,000 jobs statewide and will launch a comprehensive program to improve aging roads, bridges and mass transit, as well as university and school buildings in communities throughout the state.

“I would like to thank the members of the Illinois Senate for working together to pass this legislation that will boost our economy and provide jobs for thousands of working people,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin. “I urge members of the Illinois House to act quickly and pass this bill, which plays an important role in making sure commerce in our state thrives and people can work.”

Illinois Works would be funded with new revenue brought in from a publicly-owned casino in Chicago and two other new casinos, along with an expansion of positions at existing casinos. In addition to providing money to improve statewide infrastructure, the legislation would also provide $300 million more each year for schools statewide, building on the $550 million education funding increase included the budget for fiscal year 2008. For schools in the Rockford area, that means a total increase of $28,984,169 a year in state support.

“I would ask that my colleagues in the House work quickly to pass this capital bill,” said State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford). “This bill provides funding that is key to helping Rockford continue to grow and develop.”

Combined with federal, state and local funds, the multi-year program will provide:
• $15.625 billion to build and improve roads and bridges;

• $4.875 billion for K-12 education and higher education school construction projects;

• $2.588 billion for public transit, passenger rail and airports;

• $6.25 billion for economic development projects that will enhance Illinois’ communities;

• $1.116 billion for environmental and energy projects that will improve drinking and waste water facilities statewide, redevelop brownfields, and improve and repair state-owned dams;

• $553 billion to renovate and expand state facilities across Illinois.

Locally, the people of the Rockford will benefit from Illinois Works through:

Roads and Bridges

• US 20 (Freeport Bypass) from US 20 Business west of Freeport to west of Illinois 26. This project provides $38.2 million for additional lanes for 4 miles, a new bridge, land acquisition, utility adjustments and engineering for contract plans.

• Illinois 2 from Beltline Road to 0.4 mile north of Harrison Avenue and south of Pond Street to Cedar Street southwest of Rockford; Riverside Boulevard to Auburn Street and Elmwood Road to Latham Road north of Rockford. This project provides $116.6 million for widening and resurfacing on 8.6 miles, intersection improvements and related work.

• US 20 from IL 84 northwest of Galena to Horseshoe Mound Interchange. This project provides $35.8 million for improvements to this location.

• Illinois 173 from Illinois 251 to the Boone County Line. This project adds lanes, a new intersection and land acquisition for $66.1 million.

• Over $2 million to make improvements to bridges on IL 26 south of Amboy Road.

• $1.5 million to replace the bridge on IL 40 at Otter Creek west of Milledgeville

Education

• In FY07, Rockford received $299,298,254 in General State Aid. The Foundation Level is set in statute at $5,334.

• The budget that passed would provide Rockford with $328,282,423, which is an additional $28,984,169. However, this can only happen if legislation is passed by the General Assembly to increase the Foundation Level to $5,734 per student. This legislation is currently pending action in the House.

• If the Capital Bill passes, it will receive $350,575,713, which is an additional $51,277,459 more than the FY 07 level. Again, this will require legislation to increase the Foundation Level to $5,900 per student.

• $19,190,600 for renovating and expanding Stevens Building and Northern Illinois University.

• $1.6 billion to award new school construction program grants across the state.

• $150 million for the school maintenance program to provide up to $50,000 to each district in Illinois.

• $14,250,000 for constructing a National Rural Health Center at the University of Illinois at Rockford.

Economic Development

• $4,200,000 for the Rockford Civic Center.

“We are pleased to see that our leaders in Springfield have put forth a capital plan that allows the state of Illinois to move ahead with projects that are key to our continued economic growth and success,” said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. “The ability to move ahead with the improvements to North Main Street and the gateway at South Main Street are just an example of two key initiatives that the capital plan will fund in Rockford. The significance of these projects rests in their capacity to bring new businesses, new visitors, and new transportation routes to our region. In addition to our road projects, we are excited to hear that the University of Illinois College of Medicine can continue with their planned expansion of the Rockford campus and that the Metro Centre will find some assistance in their capital improvement project. These projects, along with the continued funding of statewide projects like the River Edge program are all key elements in ensuring our continued success.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christianson said “It is critical that the State House pass a capital spending plan so Winnebago County can make much needed road and infrastructure improvements,” said Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christianson.

The Illinois House of Representatives is expected to take up the bill when they reconvene on October 2nd for the fall veto session.


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