The clock is ticking on the federal Highway Trust Fund, and both of Illinois’ U.S. Senators are against settling for any short-term extension. The fund supports highway and transit projects around the country, but since 2005, Congress hasn’t been able to pass a long-term transportation funding bill, instead passing 33 short-term fixes. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) says a much longer, larger bill is what’s best for the state.
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“I think six-year is the best way to go,” Kirk said. “I’m going to be very pro-highway funding bill, because any time we add to the infrastructure of the United States, we help Illinois.” But a six-year bill may cost $100 billion, and Congress has been reluctant to raise the gas tax, the chief revenue stream for transportation funding. If another short-term fix is all that’s proposed, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says Republicans will be to blame. “They have to face the reality. They were elected to lead. They currently have the majority in the House and in the Senate. There’s no excuse,” Durbin said. The latest short-term extension runs out July 31.