Hours before the end of fiscal 2016 and a proposed shutdown of infrastructure projects and the layoff of 25,000 highway workers in Illinois, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature agreed to fully fund transportation for fiscal 2017.
“The House and Senate have voted to approve SB 2047 Amendment 5, which is legislation agreed to by the legislative leaders and the governor," the Illinois Department of Transportation announced in a press release. "IDOT’s [fiscal 2017] budget was included in the agreement. We expect the governor to sign the bill. Education and transportation were funded through the entire fiscal year. IDOT’s [fiscal 2017] funding includes all appropriations that were included in earlier legislation (operations and capital, local roads …) along with some additional clean-up appropriations.”
The battle between Rauner and Speaker Michael Madigan and others had lasted more than a year, prompting IDOT’s fiscal 2016 budget to be paid under a court order. So the 11th-hour agreement was welcomed by transportation stakeholders.
“While there is still more work to do to provide for long-term, stable funding for our infrastructure, this agreement does prevent the July 1 shutdown of projects that would have devastated the construction industry and our economy,” Jennifer Morrison, managing director of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, told Transport Topics.
"The Illinois Trucking Association is pleased that lawmakers have agreed to a stopgap budget,” said ITA Executive Director Matt Hart. “Our highway construction season will continue, and we can move forward with the investments in our bridges and highways. ITA will continue to press lawmakers to make some of the long-term budget decisions that are still necessary for our state, including a new long-term highway bill, a long-term budget, and workers compensation reforms that will bring our work comp rates for trucking in line with our neighboring states."