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General Assembly Pays the Fare

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 31, 2007 1:50PM

On Wednesday, the Illinois House Committee on Mass Transit approved legislation that would enable the RTA to fund the CTA, Metra and Pace and prevent service cuts and fare hikes across the board. The Illinois House Committee on Mass Transit approved a transit funding and reform proposal by a 15-4 vote. The House is expected to convene to vote on the proposal next week.

2007_8_skyway.jpgThis bill comes after the RTA announced that a "doomsday" scenario would cut services, increase fares, cut jobs and defer capital investments and maintenance projects indefinitely. In fact, Chicago Card holders received an email from the CTA outlining the increase in costs this week. Unfortunately, the governor has threatened to "Rodimize" Chicago saying that the $450 million bill would hurt average people by increasing sales taxes in the six-county region. He has vowed to veto the bill, arguing that his fantasy of closing corporate tax loopholes is the best course for fully funding mass transit in the region. Never mind that Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), the relative expert on transit issues in the General Assembly, has fought for this legislation, contending that it can stand up to a gubernatorial veto. "We don't have four legislative leaders and a governor who are working together. If we did, we could do anything, even at the last minute," Hamos told the Tribune.

Of course, Mayor Daley and Blagojevich are at odds over this legislation. "The only viable option for the CTA, Metra and for PACE is a sales tax," Daley told Chicago Public Radio. "I do not support the plan to require people to pay a higher sales tax and real estate transfer tax," Blagojevich told the Chicago Tribune. "That just ends up hurting the very people who rely on mass transit." All the while Daley has been asking for a tax increase to fund continued operations of the CTA, while the city had the opportunity to fully fund the CTA with finances generated from the $1.82 billion lease of the Chicago Skyway to Spain-based Cintra Concessiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A. in 2004.

Of course, if Blagojevich wants to continue to have corporate tax loopholes to point to as a solution for the ills of the day, he'll have to insure that the people in the Chicagoland metropolitan area have corporate jobs to go to.

Image via The New No. 2.