The transportation bill funding passed by Congress may force state lawmakers to consider a new capital construction program.
The measure known as the FAST Act (Fixing America's Surface Transportation) will bring an estimated $3 billion in transportation funding to the state over the next five years, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
To get the state's full share, however, there needs to be state funding available to match what's coming from the federal government. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) says that's why a new capital bill is needed.
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"The capital bill is something in some fashion, I don't know what it will look like, will have to come about in order to match those funds, and I certainly would support that," Radogno said.
Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association president Mike Sturino says he's glad to hear Radogno talking about a new construction plan, but thinks the state's ability to match those funds will be impacted by a decision made by state lawmakers in May. In order to plug a budget shortfall in fiscal year 2015, a bill was passed allowing $1.3 billion to be swept out of dedicated state funds, including $250 million from the road fund.
"It will have an impact both on the upcoming construction season and the ability for the state to maximize federal funds because of the potential shortfall of matching funds," Sturino said.
Sturino advocates for moving road construction funding away from reliance on multi-year capital programs and the gas tax to a user fee based on how much you drive.
The last multi-year capital program was the $31 billion "Illinois Jobs Now" bill passed in 2009.