Senate Hears Bonding Needs as Work Toward a Capital Bill Begins to Move Forward

State Capitol, February 21, 2019 – In her first hearing before the Senate Subcmte on Capital, Alexis Strum, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, covered the bonding levels of the state, and schooled some senators on how bonding authority issued under previous administrations, continue to draw funds from various tax streams.

In his Budget Address, Gov Pritzker said he was in favor of passing a new Capital Bill. Capital Bills, are those laws that provide the legal authority for the state to borrow millions of dollars, to provide funds for major infrastructure projects. Illinois has not had a Capital Bill for over ten years, and many lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle are looking to have a bill that will allow for the construction of new roads, bridges, schools, or allow for maintenance and repairs. There are millions in deferred maintenance, perhaps billions, due to the lack of a Capital bill over the last decade.

A humorous moment happened early in the hearing, as the lights in the hearing room dimmed and flickered for a moment, and Budget Director Strum joked, “Perhaps we need to do some upgrades here!”

Strum told senators the state pays off approximately $700 million dollars a year in bond payments.

IN THE SECOND PANEL, Transportation Dept officials testified on the needs to upgrade repairs on bridges, and that the funds needed for this are in the billions of dollars. While some funds come from the Federal Government, at this time we are maximizing all Federal matching dollars, the committee was told.

The committee tied in the need for updating the bridges in the state, as well as roadways, may add fuel to the argument to increase the state’s motor fuel tax.

An engineer with IDOT, assured senators that there is far more maintenance needs than there is money to go toward fixing our transportation maintenance needs.