A proposed constitutional amendment would ensure taxpayer dollars meant for roads and bridges are spent as intended.
The so-called lockbox constitutional amendment would prevent lawmakers from diverting money intended for infrastructure spending to other state expenses. Todd Maisch, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce president, said the amendment would be a victory for taxpayers.
“Way too often, the legislature and other leaders have raided that road fund to pay for other bills,” Maisch said. “That’s just something people were tired of, and we needed to go ahead and lock it like 31 other states already do.”
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A 2013 audit found that over a 10-year period, lawmakers diverted about $6 billion in road funds to cover state pensions, employee health insurance, state trooper salaries and workers’ compensation claims. One construction company said that is enough money to pave about 7,500 miles of roads.
Maisch said taxpayers should be upset that state leaders misused those funds.
“That is a startling number and really makes the case for why we need this constitutional amendment to protect transportation funding that is supposed to be dedicated, but all too often hasn’t been,” Maisch said.
Masich said the lockbox amendment also would make people more likely to support another road project program.
The proposal passed the House and now heads to the Senate. If approved, the measure would be on the ballot for voters’ consideration in November.