Rauner Administration Asks For Public Input On Construction Revenues
Governor Bruce Rauner has long promised major investments in Illinois' infrastructure system, but has been short on suggestions for how to pay for construction. Now Rauner's administration says it's asking taxpayers their opinions on shoring up a public works program.
The Illinois Department of Transportation kicked off a 28-stop "listening tour" in Champaign Monday. The forum was well-attended by local business and government types, who all more or less said the state needed to pay more attention to infrastructure.
After all, last year Illinois was given a grade of C- on an annual "infrastructure report card" rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
But paying for maintenance projects — and proposing new construction statewide — is going to require a large pot of money.
IDOT chief Randy Blankenhorn says the piecemeal capital construction plans the General Assembly has passed the last couple of decades aren't cutting it.
"Transportation facilities take a long time to build," he said. "And so when you can really only plan for five-year increments, you don't plan very well."
Blankenhorn says he's looking for "Anything that is sustainable, that grows over time, that we can count on, without getting through these peaks and valleys, those are the kinds of revenues that we want to talk about."
Advocates for new construction revenue have long floated raising the state's gasoline tax, which hasn't increased in 25 years. But opponents say that will cost business, especially along state borders.
Rauner has repeatedly said he'll need to study a gas tax in order to take a position on a possible increase.