November 29, 2012
The Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability released a new report today that provides an overview of the condition and funding of Illinois infrastructure. As discussed in a previous post, one of the report’s functions is to compile needs assessments from a number of public agencies to provide an aggregate evaluation of the state of Illinois’ infrastructure, from drinking water to roads to rails. In addition, the report highlights gaps in available data, examines how capital is financed in Illinois and looks at risk factors.
The largest information gap identified by the report is the lack of a capital improvement plan (CIP) for the State of Illinois. In addition to the problems that have been identified in several previous posts related to the State’s ongoing lack of a centralized plan for its infrastructure, without a CIP there is additionally no centralized database or report providing comprehensive information about infrastructure condition or needs. Thus, the report pieces together information of varying quantity and detail from various agencies and governments.
The capital financing section of the report summarizes the various means by which the State, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and other authorities raise funding for capital needs. Those sources include federal funds, bonds, gambling and various taxes on everything from personal hygiene products to car rentals. The report also reviews the future of capital funding given current and projected trends.
The risk factors identified in the report include a significant backlog of capital needs for public transit in Northeast Illinois. The condition of the RTA’s assets is poor as evaluated in the organization’s condition assessment report, with many stations and trains beyond their usable lives. Additionally, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace, the three organizations overseen by RTA, reported a combined $13.3 billion in capital needs related to “backlog” costs to replace assets with an age greater than their useful life.
The Civic Federation produced the overview of Illinois infrastructure as part of the State Budget Crisis Task Force report on Illinois.