J.B. barnstorms behind capital plan
Rebuild Illinois budgets record $45 billion for statewide infrastructure
By Ted Cox
Gov. Pritzker barnstormed across the state Friday touting the record $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital plan.
Pritzker signed the capital bill and kicked off his day in East St. Louis, then continued on to the Lincoln Depot State Historic Site in Springfield and held another event in the afternoon within sight of the infamous Interstate 80 bridge across the Des Plaines River, set to be replaced as part of $1.2 billion in the plan earmarked for multiple bridge replacements and road upgrades in Joliet and Will County.
“With this historic $45 billion capital plan, we’re fixing decades-long problems, creating good jobs, improving communities for the next generation — and doing it together, across party lines,” Pritzker said in a statement. “The Rebuild Illinois plan transforms our state’s approach to transportation infrastructure, finally treating our roads, bridges, and railways like 21st-century investments and not relics of the past. We’re also making critical investments in our higher-education institutions, our crime lab and veterans’ homes, early childhood centers, and expanding broadband access to communities across Illinois. With these investments, we’re creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of new jobs in our state. This is more than an infrastructure plan. This is a job-creation plan the likes of which our state has never seen.”
It was actually a series of bill signings, as Pritzker approved House Bill 62 on so-called horizontal infrastructure allotting $33 billion to transportation, $3.5 billion to education projects, $1 billion to the environment, and $420 million to statewide broadband expansion.
Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1939 to pay for it, doubling the motor-fuel tax to 38 cents a gallon and increasing title fees and vehicle-registration fees, and House Bill 142 to float bonds based on those added revenues. He also signed Senate Bill 690 legalizing sports gambling and allowing additional casinos in Chicago, Waukegan, Rockford, the south suburbs, Williamson County, and Danville to fund so-called vertical infrastructure through a $1-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax to $2.98 as well as additional parking taxes. It also creates the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act, including the Illinois Works Preapprenticeship Program and the Illinois Works Apprenticeship Initiative.
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I-80 Coalition News
A proposal shown to lawmakers includes major new spending on roads, transit, schools and more, but would require a doubling of the gas tax and new levies on items like vehicle registration, liquor, cable TV and ride-hailing.
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State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, has introduced legislation aimed at converting the local stretch of Interstate 80 into a tollway.
A coalition created to push for improvements to Interstate 80 will point to $623 billion of freight coming through Will County a year, making a case the local corridor has national importance.
A new grass-roots effort, known as the I-80 Coalition, has been launched by the Will County Center for Economic Development to hasten needed improvements to I-80.
A new I-80 Coalition is being formed to speed up long-term plans to improve the interstate.
The chairman of the state tollway board laid out a case to the Joliet City Council on Monday for turning the local stretch of Interstate 80 into a toll road.