Illinois business leaders are urging state lawmakers and the governor to implement a stopgap budget that fully funds transportation infrastructure projects.
Members of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition are pressing for swift action, warning that the state budget impasse is putting the 2016 road and infrastructure construction season at risk.
Lawmakers and the governor ought to "put transportation in the very top tier of priorities as they discuss a resolution" to the budget, said Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition.
If the state loses the 2016 road and infrastructure construction season, that could result in 25,000 job losses and cost taxpayers $3 million per day to have construction sites secured to protect motorists, according to the coalition.
"Losing a construction season would accelerate the infrastructure system's already significant decline in condition and jeopardize the state's economic future. It threatens good-paying middle-class jobs that Illinois badly needs," said Mike Kleinik, executive director of the Chicago Laborers District Council - LMCC - and co-chair of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition.
Coalition members would like to see a long-term measure approved for transportation projects. At a minimum, the group is calling for stopgap road funding.
"We need a major investment to keep our systems going," Maisch stressed. "So we need a capital bill, but in the meantime, while the budget impasse is going, we just want to make sure the legislature and the governor are focused on not losing an entire construction season."