CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard, co-chairs of the newly-formed Illinois Works Coalition, will launch a statewide listening tour tomorrow in Decatur. Former Speaker Hastert and President Poshard will join families, businesses and labor leaders to discuss how the Governor’s Illinois Works plan, a $25 billion capital program to build or rebuild critical infrastructure, would support hundreds of thousands of jobs and spur the economy in communities across the state. The listening tour will begin on Wednesday, March 19 in Decatur.
Earlier this month, the Governor tapped Hastert and Poshard, two of the state’s most influential leaders, to co-chair the Illinois Works Coalition. By drawing expertise from business, labor and local leaders across the state, the group will focus on helping pass a statewide infrastructure plan. Illinois Works is the central piece of a statewide stimulus package aimed at boosting Illinois’ economy in the face of a slowing national economy.
“As the nation’s economy continues to struggle, now is the time to pass a comprehensive capital bill in Illinois to put people to work. Speaker Hastert, President Poshard and the Illinois Works Coalition will hear first hand, starting tomorrow in Decatur, just how important a public works program is to families across our state. Hopefully over the next few months, by working together, we will build the support we need to pass this plan in Springfield,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
“I am looking forward to visiting various communities and addressing the many needs that need attention. It has been nine years to long and it’s time for capital investments," said Co-Chair Hastert. “It is a key time in the Land of Lincoln to make changes that will enhance the future of Illinois resident in so many different ways.”
“We need to pass Illinois Works without delay. Illinois hasn’t had a capital bill in nine years. We need to capitalize on this opportunity to improve our schools and transportation infrastructure,” said Co-Chair Poshard. “Now is the right time to get this done, because it is a critical time for Illinois residents, workers and families.”
Illinois Works will support more than 700,000 jobs and fix the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges, build and repair schools across the state, and provide resources for statewide economic development. The Governor’s Illinois Works plan includes:
- $14.4 billion for road and bridge programs
- $3.8 billion for school construction
- $2.7 billion for public transit
- $1.1 billion for higher education
- $1.1 billion for environment, energy and technology
- $1.0 billion for economic development, including housing
- $600 million for improved and expanded state facilities
- $500 million for airports and rail
During this listening tour, members of the coalition will be traveling to various communities to hear directly from residents about the depth of capital needs around the state. The objective of these visits is to document the extensive need for capital investment in Illinois and to build grassroots support by recruiting additional coalition members throughout the state. Coalition members will share their findings with lawmakers in Springfield in order to ensure a capital bill is passed by the General Assembly this legislative session.