Views & Perspectives | Hooray! Illinois has a $40 billion capital bill

RAY LAHOOD

RAY LAHOOD

Thanks to the extraordinary leadership of Illinois legislators both Republicans, Democrats and Gov. JB Pritzker, Illinois is finally on a course to fixing our pothole-filled roads, crumbling Illinois interstates and structurally deficient bridges. The $40 billion capital bill is long overdue but will begin the long process of improving Illinois infrastructure.

We owe a big debt of gratitude to our local legislators who provided the leadership and support to pass this important legislation. Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, of Bloomington, one of the top leaders of the Illinois Senate, worked very hard to persuade his Republican colleagues to support the capital bill. Special thanks to Sen. Dave Koehler and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, both strong supporters. Rep. Ryan Spain was a strong supporter of the capital bill but also a significant leader in the Illinois House of Representatives in working with his House Republicans to seek their support. The same is true for Rep. Tim Butler who serves in Republican leadership in the Illinois House. Tim grew up in Peoria and was a close adviser to me when I served in Congress.

This is a historic bill in so many ways.

One, raising the gas tax 19 cents a gallon will provide the needed money to fix our infrastructure, including roads and bridges. Without these resources we would not have the needed money.

Two, the bill also provides millions of dollars to fix our deteriorating facilities around Central Illinois and the State of Illinois. This will include facilities at Illinois Central College, Bradley University, some Peoria Public Schools facilities to name a few.

Third, the incredible number of jobs for engineers, architects, building contractors, road contractors and building trades workers will be substantial for many, many years.

Fourth, the economic development opportunities for our communities all across Illinois through the rehabilitation of roads, bridges and facilities will increase economic development and growth, new businesses and new jobs.

Now the leaders in Washington need to pass a big, bold Infrastructure bill and raise the federal gas tax to pay for fixing our crumbling roads and the 60,000 structurally-deficient bridges in America. Washington needs to follow Illinois’ leadership to move our country forward in improving infrastructure and creating jobs and economic development.

Again, a huge thanks to Illinois leaders and our local legislative leaders for doing their jobs in a bipartisan manner to benefit the citizens of Illinois.

Ray LaHood



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