Governor J.B. Pritzker signed three bills into law on June 12th, one of them has major local impact on upcoming infrastructure projects. Pritzker signed House Bill 64 on Friday, which re-appropriates the Rebuild Illinois capital plan and other capital appropriations around the state.
A number of major city infrastructure projects will be receiving funding through the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Road fund in West Central Illinois. IDOT is awarding $2500 to the City of Jacksonville for flood repair along the Town Branch. The city still has portions of a 5-phase plan passed in 2012 to repair the eastern portions of town after the 2011 town flood crippled the water plant and flooded out Rolling Acres mobile estates. The 2011 flood prompted the building of the town’s new water plant on Hardin Avenue, which was completed just 2 years ago.
The City of Jacksonville is also set to receive over a million dollars for various resurfacing and infrastructure rehab projects from the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. The city is set to receive $500,000 for road resurfacing and new sidewalks for Diamond Street, $291,900 for the next step in Downtown revitalization for the East State Street portion, and $600,000 for an East Morton Avenue project. The East State Street letting is set to begin some time this month. The East Morton Avenue project is likely to cover resurfacing from Main Street to the city limits. It has been 4 years since West Morton Avenue was resurfaced.
The Village of South Jacksonville is set to receive a little over $60,000 from IDOT and DCEO for various infrastructure projects. The Morgan County government has been allocated a total of $160,000 with $50,000 specifically earmarked for phone and communication upgrades at the courthouse and sheriff’s office.
The Bob Freesen YMCA was allocated $50,000 for various capital improvements and the Jacksonville Historical Society was granted $40,000 for capital improvements linked to the upcoming city museum.
Several other city and county governments as well as school districts have projects receiving money across West Central Illinois. Most all school districts in the WLDS/WEAI listening area are set to receive at least $10,000 for various capital improvements.
The entire text of the bill can be found at this link.
Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer is skeptical of the reappropriated funds. He says the bill is just fulfilling promises that have already been made and adding more spending to the state: “The projects for new phones in the courthouse or new radios for a sheriff’s department or safety upgrades to a courthouse – things like that, things that are useful that can offset local costs, offset local property tax burden – that stuff is good. The problems that I see is that when they passed this bill, they added in a bunch of new spending. We are already down on revenue from people not driving places, and from the Chicago casino not being up and running yet, and gaming machines being down, but they still added more spending.”
Davidsmeyer says most of the money and new spending in the bill is going to Democrat-represented districts: “$73 million dollars, most of which goes to Chicago Public Schools, $85 million in new capital for democratically represented districts, $42 million in new capital for hospitals and colleges for democratically represented districts, $279 million in new member initiatives and request from the Senate Democratic caucus, and $1.52 billion dollars in new member initiative requests from the House Democratic caucus – so it was a giant capital bill that already passed that promised to put money into the hands of IDOT and DCEO and other areas to be spent where it was most needed is now being politically directed by politicians seeking to get re-elected, which is incredibly frustrating.”
Davidsmeyer says that he and 50th District State Senator Steve McClure are currently working on money outside of the capital bill to find a way to appropriate money to repave IL Route 267 from Jacksonville south to the Greene County line, as well as attempting to finance the demolition and redevelopment of the Jacksonville Developmental Center property in cooperation with Central Management Services.
Davidsmeyer says he is concerned that the state is now relying heavily upon federal borrowing: “Just our operations budget – just the general operation of the State of Illinois relies upon $5 billion in borrowing from the federal government. It’s at a much lower rate. Part of that borrowing is because of COVID-19 but not in its entirety. The majority party in the House and Senate did not do anything to try to reduce spending. They are just going to rely on borrowing which we will obviously have to pay back over the next few years. It will impact next year’s budget, and the year after that, and so on because we will be paying for this year for the next few years. It’s just kicking the can again.”
The funds outlined in HB64 are set to be distributed to the local units of government throughout the state over the next few months.