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Transit Funding Legislation: Get On Board, Already

By Margaret Lyons in News on Jan 10, 2008 5:07PM


Illinois state legislators are at it again today, after yesterday's close-but-no-cigar attempts to resolve the transit funding crisis. The House passed a sales-tax increase plan yesterday, but it fell one vote sort in the Senate; those so-and-sos are going to give it another go today because three of them abstained (courteously?) yesterday.

That bill would raise the sales tax in Cook by a quarter percentage point and by a half-percentage point in the five collar counties, and levy a new tax on real estate sales in the City. Blagojevich has vowed to veto that bill and has vowed to "improve" whatever bill lands on his desk, which does not inspire confidence on our part.

Another bill making its way through the legislature uses money from the gasoline tax to fund mass transit, but it doesn't do anything to fill the gap that diverting the $400 million would leave in the state budget.

What's the biggest hold-up?

Demand for a statewide construction program was a bigger problem in the Senate, where a number of Downstate lawmakers said they would not support the transit bill without the statewide construction program.

Senate President Emil Jones could only wrangle 26 of the 37 Democratic state senators to vote for the sales tax bill, and House Republican Leader Tom Cross called the bill "the Chicago power grab." [Trib, ABC 7, Trib 2, Sun-Times]

Waiting for the Blue Line by Joshua Mellin