Illinois governor touts construction plan

| 1/12/2006

As Illinois lawmakers embark on a new year of legislative activity, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is campaigning for passage of a $3 billion capital improvement program to fund work on roads, public transit and schools.

On the day before the Illinois General Assembly convened on Wednesday, Jan. 11, Blagojevich made various stops around the state stressing his program would promote economic development without requiring lawmakers to make difficult choices in generating dollars to pay for the projects.

The governor is hopeful that will provide the formula to end a two-year battle between Democrats and Republicans over how to pay for a new capital construction program.

Blagojevich’s capital spending plan provides $2.3 billion for roadwork, which would allow the state to leverage $1.5 billion in federal money designated for Illinois in the Highway Bill that was approved in August 2005, The Associated Press reported.

Mass transit would get $425 million, satisfying the state’s funding requirement to claim $1.7 billion in federal mass transit funds. Elementary and high school buildings would receive $500 million.

Blagojevich said the $3 billion bond issue could be paid for without additional taxes. Instead, he said the bonds would be paid off with existing state revenue sources that are expected to generate more money in the coming years, particularly the state’s per gallon tax on motor fuels.