QUINCY - A bipartisan group of local legislators joined together with local businesses and labor leaders before the Memorial and Bayview Bridges, showing the importance of bridges and roads to commerce in Quincy and reiterating the urgency for a statewide capital plan this summer.
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.
“Our infrastructure - our roads, highways, bridges, and schools - is the backbone of our state. We must act diligently and quickly to maintain the health of Illinois. We need to take long-overdue action and pass a capital plan,” said Senator John M. Sullivan (D - Quincy).
“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 state Representative Jay Hoffman (D – Collinsville).
“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 (R-Macomb).
“I’m remaining optimistic and believing that the capital plan will be passed soon. Its approval will mean great things for the people of Quincy and that has me very excited. They definitely deserve all the good that will come out of this,” said Representative Jil Tracy (R-Quincy).
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 Quincy include:
- $9 million for Phase 1 engineering for environmental, design and location studies and for Phase II engineering for contract plans for a new bridge for Illinois 104 over the Illinois River at Meredosia.
- $50 million for a new interchange at US 67/US 136 and Illinois 336 Macomb Bypass.
- $900,000 for a new bridge at Illinois9/96 in Niota.
$2.7 million to replace bridges along Illinois 96 in Hancock and Adams Counties.
$2.3 million to replace bridges along Illinois 104 in Pike County.
$1.25 million to replace a bridge on Illinois 106 in Scott County.
- $65,226,700 for Western Illinois University to construct a performing arts center.
- $23,825,400 for Western Illinois University for repairs and capital improvements.
- $2,381,000 for the Quincy Veteran’s Home in Adams County, including:
- $343,000- For replacing pumps
- $214,000- For replacing waste water lines
- $1,000,000- For planning and beginning the renovation of Kent, Shapers, and Elmore
- $824,000- For providing emergency power