Lawmakers approved legislation Thursday that could create massive tax-financed infrastructure projects in Chicago and elsewhere across the state.

The measure would allow for the creation of special taxing-districts, known as TIFs, to fund transportation-based development and redevelopment projects in Chicago and across the state.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said her bill would stimulate transportation growth that benefits a city's infrastructure. "Transit-oriented development is a really good idea because it encourages development in ways that reduces pollution, congestion, all the rest," Currie said.


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She said it could also qualify Illinois for up to $800 million in federal funds to be used on public transportation.

State Rep.South-suburban Chicago Democrat Al Riley said the bill would set up a massive taxpayer-funded program with little oversight.

"Where is the language in the bill to be sure that the right things are being done? This is really a super-TIF bill," Riley said. "This is unlike any other TIF district that I think has ever been created in the state."

Opponents of TIF districts said they take money intended for a taxing body and limit its use. This, in turn, could force a municipality to raise taxes to cover budget shortfalls. Certain TIF districts in this bill could be in place for 50 years.

(Copyright WBGZ /