May 30, 2019
The State of Illinois has not had a major capital plan for a decade, and it is clear that capital needs are outpacing resources. While there is near universal agreement, including by the Civic Federation, that significant investment is necessary to maintain and expand Illinois’ infrastructure, the Federation cannot support any capital plan that does not include:
- A comprehensive assessment and transparent prioritization of needs; and
- Identification of reliable, sustainable funding sources.
As lawmakers work toward a capital plan, the Civic Federation urges the General Assembly and Governor to take a holistic, transparent approach and to avoid the pitfalls that have limited past capital programs.
A list of projects with little explanation of the selection process will not be sufficient. Instead, Illinois’ next capital plan must include a detailed, transparent blueprint of project prioritization, with a clear explanation of how each project fits into the whole plan, as is done in the states of North Carolina and Virginia. This would ensure that funds are being spent efficiently and with maximal impact on Illinois’ economy.
Additionally, the revenues and debt needed to address the State’s crumbling infrastructure are considerable—in the tens of billions of dollars. Rather than relying on a variety of untested or historically underperforming sources, lawmakers must identify sustainable funding in order to avoid adverse impact to the General Funds budget.