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As Illinois continues to lag behind our neighboring states and the entire nation in the ongoing economic recovery, I believe one of the most important pieces of legislation we can enact to help create jobs in Illinois is the transportation bill that's been stalled in Congress.

Just last month, the U.S. House voted almost unanimously to approve a bill that authorizes $284 billion of transportation projects around the country. These projects are vital to the transportation and economic needs of our nation, and I believe the Senate should act quickly to pass a bill so we can get the legislation reconciled and on to the president for his signature. For Illinois, this bill would provide a much-needed boost to our economy from the federal government. This support from the feds is in stark contrast to the governor's administration in Springfield, which has enacted anti-business policies over the past two years, hasn't succeeded in passing a capital projects budget that would help put people to work, and has driven businesses out of the state. Recent news reports say that central Illinois residents view the Illinois economy less positively than they did a few months ago, and I believe that's directly tied to the anti-business policies of this governor.

The transportation bill, also known as the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, is a six-year bill to fund construction and repairs of roads and bridges around the nation. It also provides the important resources to keep our mass transit systems running. This bill, when compared to the previous transportation bill that's expired, represents a 42 percent increase in transportation investments. This increased funding level helps all of our states move forward with projects that will help to ensure the economic health of the country.

For Illinois, this bill increases transportation investments by more than $1.6 billion during the next six years when compared to previous spending. This investment in the infrastructure of our state will put people to work, increasing tax revenue to help address our state's huge budget hole, and will help move the economy of Illinois in the right direction.

Central and western Illinois certainly will benefit under this bill. Outside of the dollars that'll go to our area under formula funding to IDOT, the bill specifically helps fund several important projects: a corridor study for the Eastern Peoria Bypass, U.S. Route 67 upgrades, pre-construction work for Route 336, continued funding for the Veteran's Parkway extension in Pekin, funding to upgrade Technology Boulevard in East Peoria, and a host of projects for smaller communities throughout the area.

Congress has been working on this bill for almost three years, and it's well past time we get this bill signed into law so our economy and infrastructure can benefit. I applaud the hard work of Speaker Denny Hastert and the Illinois members of the Transportation Committee in securing a significant increase for the State of Illinois-an increase that benefits all regions of Illinois. I urge our senators to support this bill and to call for quick passage in the Senate. IBI

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