ROCKFORD - A bipartisan group of local legislators today reiterated the urgency for a statewide capital plan this summer and joined together with local businesses and labor leaders at Patten Caterpillar Construction to show that Rockford needs a capital plan and the jobs it would bring.
At the end of the legislative session, three of the four legislative caucuses came together to support the Illinois Works capital plan and the Senate passed the capital bill with bipartisan support. After the House Democratic leadership used a procedural maneuver to block that capital bill, the Governor called on legislative leaders to come together to pass this bipartisan plan before the month’s end.
“I am hopeful that the Governor and the legislative leaders will meet over the next two weeks and iron out any differences they may have on this bill so the state can access the nine billion dollars of transportation funds awaiting our match at the federal level and so we can avoid losing another construction season and a ten percent increase in costs to the taxpayers of Illinois,” said SIU President and co-Chairman of the Illinois Works Coalition Glenn Poshard.
In addition to supporting more than 500,000 jobs statewide, Illinois Works will address the state’s deteriorating roads and bridges, build and repair schools across the state, and provide resources for statewide economic development.
The final bill is drawn from a set of recommendations presented by Illinois Works Coalition Co-Chairs Former Speaker of the U.S. House J. Dennis Hastert and Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard. For the last three months, Hastert and Poshard have led the effort to build consensus on a statewide infrastructure improvement bill. The last capital bill was passed in 1999.
"Not only do we need to act now on a capital plan for the sake of our state, but we could end up losing even more. Inaction will lead us to potentially lose billions of dollars in matching federal funds. It's time to pass a capital plan immediately," said Senator Dave Syverson (R - Rockford).
“This is the time for a capital bill. We have waited long enough for road and bridge infrastructure, for updated classrooms, and for community development. The House leadership has acknowledged the need, but killed Illinois Works with a procedural maneuver; and we will not stand for that,” said Representative Jay Hoffman (D – Collinsville).
“Our state is in desperate need of a capital investment plan that will repair our roads, fix our schools and most of all put our trades people back to work. Without jobs, families are struggling, retail sales are reduced and our economy falters. Let’s set aside our differences, work together for responsible funding, and make sure a modest capital plan becomes an actuality,” said Representative Robert Pritchard (R – Sycamore).
"This has been a diligent bi-partisan effort that two of the most significantly honored men in this state, Former Speaker Dennis Hastert and President Glenn Poshard, have undertaken and successfully endured. It would be a travesty to see us come so far and have nothing come to fruition. We need to pass this capital plan as soon as possible," said Representative Jim Sacia (R-Freeport).
“As a father of two, I know how important it is to have the best schools for your children to study in, and the best roads for your family to travel on. The capital plan will make improvements in these areas and many more for the families of Illinois, and I am in total support,” said Representative Dave Winters (R-Rockford).
“This state is in need of the infrastructure improvements that will come with the capital plan. Who doesn’t want better schools and roads for their community? I know I’m looking forward to the projects and jobs it will provide for my constituents and the great people of Illinois,” said Representative Richard Myers
“This capital plan is long overdue. Our people need better roads and better schools and it’s about time the funds were in place to provide it for them. I stand behind this capital works plan and hope that all necessary legislation can be passed very soon,” said Representative Ronald Wait (R-Belvidere).
“Right now, our nation and our state are facing an unpredictable financial future. Providing much needed repairs to our infrastructure and offering thousands of good-paying jobs, a capital plan would help ensure that Illinois will prosper through these stormy economic times," said Representative Charles Jefferson (D - Rockford).
In early March, Gov. Blagojevich appointed Hastert and Poshard as co-chairs of the Illinois Works Coalition. The duo focused on crafting and passing an infrastructure and jobs bill that would address pressing capital needs that have built up since the last public works plan was passed nine years ago all in a bi-partisan effort. The co-chairs facilitated regular meetings with the Governor and four legislative caucuses to draft a capital plan that could be acceptable to all participants. Three of the four leaders participated in those negotiations. In the end, the House Democratic leadership used procedural maneuvers to kill the negotiated capital plan before it could be voted on by the full House.
Last week Governor Blagojevich announced that the Fiscal Year 2009 budget passed by the General Assembly on Saturday contains $2.1 billion more in spending than anticipated revenue will support, making it unconstitutional. The Illinois State Constitution requires the legislature to pass a balanced budget. The Governor has called the four legislative leaders together this week to resume work so the people of Illinois will have a budget that fulfills constitutional requirements and meets the state’s needs by July 1.
The Illinois Works capital plan passed by the Senate includes the following:
· Invest $34 billion in transportation, education, energy, health care, environmental and water, economic development and other critical infrastructure and quality of life needs for the citizens of Illinois.
· Provide a capital improvement plan clearly identifying timelines, priorities and funding sources for projects within each of these investment categories.
· Fund education construction projects and mass transportation investments with $7 billion partial lottery concession.
· Create Capital and Educational Trust Funds with “lockbox” accountability guarantees for capital investments and continuation of the current level of lottery proceeds for P-12 education.
· Use motor fuel taxes to support bonded road projects that allow nearly $2 billion in additional projects
· Expand gaming (Chicago Casino, one additional riverboat license, increases in positions at existing riverboats, and availability of electronic gaming at racetracks) to raise $600 million annually in new revenues for debt service for environmental and water, energy, economic development, health care, state facilities, and other critical purposes.
According to a study the study by Southern Illinois University, a comprehensive capital plan would have tremendous economic benefits for the state. The study found a capital plan would create 535,000 new full-time jobs, lead to $49 billion in economic activity and more than $2.9 billion in state and local tax revenues.
The Illinois Works Coalition has held a dozen events statewide since the beginning of March.
Examples of local capital projects in Rockford include:
- $38.2 million for additional lanes for 4 miles, a new bridge, land acquisition, utility adjustments and engineering for contract plans for US 20 (Freeport Bypass) from US 20 Business west of Freeport to west of Illinois 26.
- $116.6 million for widening and resurfacing on 8.6 miles, intersection improvements and related work for 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.
- $35.8 million for improvements to US 20 from IL 84 northwest of Galena to Horseshoe Mound Interchange.
- $66.1 million for a new intersection, new lanes and landacquisition for Illinois 173 from Illinois 251 to the Boone County Line.
- 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.
· $20,138,800 for Northern Illinois University to renovate and expand Stevens Building.
· $14,250,000 for the University of Illinois – Rockford to construct a National Rural Health Center.
· $34,856,900 for Northern Illinois University for repairs and capital improvements.
· The Rockford Civic Center has been allocated $4,200,000 under the FY 08 capital program.