A Publication of WTVP

In the waning days of the Spring 2008 session, members of the legislature of both parties, along with the governor, former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and current Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard came together to craft a plan to improve and rebuild the transportation infrastructure in our state.

That infrastructure has not seen an infusion of funds for nearly a decade, and it shows. The degrading roads and bridges in our state, along with our schools and other public buildings, such as state hospitals and civic centers, seem to indicate that we have not made the upkeep of our transportation network and public buildings a priority. Unfortunately, this will decrease our ability to attract business to our state and educate our children, as well as lowering our opportunity to bring tourism dollars to our communities.

The proposed capital plan would infuse $34.1 billion to be spent on projects around the state over the next several years. Of that amount, $21.4 billion would be put forth by the state, with the remaining $12.6 billion made up of local and federal matches.
The plan includes a total of $17.7 billion in funds for roads throughout Illinois. Of this total, $3.1 billion in state funding will allow us to capture $7.7 billion in federal matching funds. Nearly 60 percent of all new capital spending will be used for construction and other infrastructure improvement projects at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

A total of $683 million will be used for the School Construction Program. Currently, all school construction bond authorization has been exhausted. The School Maintenance Program will receive $55 million in the coming Fiscal Year and a total of $165 million over three years. This program provides dollar-for-dollar matching grants for school maintenance projects. The program provides up to $50,000 in state dollars for the maintenance or upkeep of buildings and structures. A total of $15 million will be used for Early Childhood construction grants in Fiscal Year 2009, and $10 million in Fiscal Year 2010. Funds will be used to aid in constructing more buildings for Pre-K education.

When it comes to higher education, a total of $1.26 billion is included to provide capital assistance to higher education institutions. Under the proposal, public universities will receive $785 million, community colleges will receive $175 million and private universities will receive $300 million in funding.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) would receive a total of $894.5 million in Fiscal Year 2009. Funds will be used for coal gasification plants ($50 million), coal energy research and development ($53 million), ethanol production facilities ($25 million), E-85 pumps ($2 million) and biodiesel production ($20 million). Also included at DCEO is $450 million for grants associated with anti-violence, economic development and job retention. A total of $150 million is included for healthcare facilities and $50 million for affordable housing.

Facilities from around the state in the Civic Centers Coalition, originally constructed with $118.7 million in state funding in the late 1970s, would receive funding from the proposed capital plan as well. The Peoria Civic Center is slated to receive $4.2 million.
A total of $250 million is contained in the bill for the economic revitalization program. One billion dollars will be allocated over four years, as well as $200 million for open space land acquisition and development, to be appropriated over four years. A total of $150 million is included for a one-year program to issue grants for state and local water and sewer projects.

We need to work together to get this important bill passed for the greater need of the state. IBI