In Springfield yesterday, Gov. Blagojevich and top lawmakers met to discuss the capital improvement plan and reportedly agreed "that everyone wants to spend money on construction projects and that it is time to find a funding source." The group is scheduled to ...
In Springfield yesterday, Gov. Blagojevich and top lawmakers met to discuss the capital improvement plan and reportedly agreed "that everyone wants to spend money on construction projects and that it is time to find a funding source." The group is scheduled to review a list of funding options in two weeks.
More revenue for capital improvements couldn't come soon enough. As the Daily Herald reports, despite the January sales tax increase, Regional Transit Authority officials have their hands tied:
But the influx of added revenues -- about $530 million more a year for the three agencies the RTA oversees -- is only for operating expenses, which include items such as salaries and fuel, officials stressed.
About $10 billion is needed for capital projects, RTA planners estimated. The to-do list includes new CTA track to reduce slow zones at a cost of $689.5 million, improvements to CTA rail stations priced at $901 million, and replacing outdated Pace fixed-route buses estimated at $99 million.
Medill Reports has more on the funding shortfalls. But the source of cash-- still unidentified -- will be important, and if Denny Hastert's warning is any indication of the direction our leaders may go, it's a bit discouraging:
Hastert declined to discuss specific funding options, but said a gambling expansion bill passed by the Senate last year is “a good place to start.”
The bill cited by Hastert would produce three additional casino licenses: one for a land-based casino in Chicago and the other two for new riverboats. As Mose noted last week, gambling has turned out not to be a very fair or sustainable way to generate state revenue and many other states are turning away from the quick fix.
Meanwhile, improving Illinois highways, education facilities, and public transit systems -- something the Bush Administration has largely ignored -- is vitally important for our environment, our safety, and our standard of living.
Let's hope our legislators take more inventive and ambitious steps to fund this initiative.