This morning, the Beachwood Reporter posted a letter from Chicago Metropolis 2020 to the members of Gov. Blagojevich's Illinois Works Coalition, which was recently formed to help pass a state capital plan. In the letter, Chicago Metropolis 2020 urges the new working group to ...
This morning, the Beachwood Reporter posted a letter from Chicago Metropolis 2020 to the members of Gov. Blagojevich's Illinois Works Coalition, which was recently formed to help pass a state capital plan. In the letter, Chicago Metropolis 2020 urges the new working group to focus on a plan that is "substantial in size and scope," with a "revenue source that is reliable and sustainable," and investments that are more than just a "grab bag of projects":
As you execute your responsibilities, there are three points that we ask you to keep in mind.
First, the transportation program needs to be substantial in size and scope. In light of the need - estimated at $14 billion over five years in new state and local dollars for rail, road and transit - a small symbolic program makes no sense. The business community and public will lose patience with inadequate, piecemeal efforts that allow our infrastructure to crumble and the economy to suffer.
Second, you need to find a revenue source that is reliable and sustainable. Burdening the state's balance sheet with more debt without new revenues to pay for it is unacceptable. Raiding the road fund to pay for new debt is a shell game. Increasing user fees or taxes is the most responsible way to fund a capital program.
Third, it is essential to create a process to ensure that investments are based on clearly articulated state goals and a rationale for setting priorities. The process should result in investments that yield the greatest transportation, economic and environmental benefits. Two recent reports, by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission and the Eddington Commission for the United Kingdom, recommend this type of thorough analysis. If you only produce a capital bill that is a grab bag of projects without such a rationale, it will fail to give the public confidence about how their money is used.
The letter goes on to note the "C" grade received by Illinois in a Pew Center for the States report on government performance, adding: "Illinois taxpayers that have to foot the bill for infrastructure have a right to expect better before they open their pocketbooks once again."