State Budget Fights Could Halt Route 30 Construction
Unless the House and Senate agree on a capital projects spending bill, the state could face a construction shutdown.
Unless state lawmakers come to an agreement on the spending in capital projects legislation, summer construction could come to a standstill, affecting as many as 52,000 jobs statewide.
Last month, the state House sent a $33.2 billion budget to the Senate. But Senate Democrats, upset over budget cuts, added $430 million for human services and education and tied that extra spending to the annual reauthorization of the statewide construction plan.
“We’ve looked at the budget, and we’ve determined that there are essential priorities for the people of Illinois, whether it be education (or) human services. We’ve determined to include them in the budget,” said state Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), according to Illinois Statehouse News.
The House rejected the extra spending, and an attempt to form a conference committee and compromise didn't lead anywhere. Now, Gov. Pat Quinn says construction could stop completely becaues of lawmakers' failure to approve the spending, a move that Rep. Renee Kosel (R-New Lenox) and Mayor Tim Baldermann say is dirty politics.
"It's crazy," Kosel said Tuesday night. "I am firmly of the opinion that the governor has the ability to pay out for contracts already approved."
That would include the roughly 9-mile stretch of Route 30 that will be widened to four lanes. Local governments in Frankfort, Mokena and New Lenox entered payment agreements with the state earlier this year on the $73 million project, and Kosel believes the construction should continue and be paid out, even if the money is tied up in this legislation. It would also include the construction on Interstate 80.
Quinn disagrees, however, saying that he doesn't have the authority to spend the money that exists to pay for highway projects. But he is planning a special legislative session today with lawmakers in hopes that they will work things out.
During a Village Board meeting Monday in which an update on the Route 30 construction was given, Baldermann said that "even in Springfield" he's hopeful the lawmakers will get it done.
"There's a lot of political rangling going on down there," he said. "This road construction is being held hostage for political gainsmanship."
Village engineer gave a brief update on the progress thus far with the Route 30 construction, saying that some drainage and sewer work has been done and that the start of a paved path is being built. That will accommodate traffic going in both directions while westbound lanes are built. Once that's finished, traffic will shift to those two lanes while the eastbound lanes are constructed.
The village is holding an open house for any residents who have questions or concerns. It will be from 4:30-6:30 p.m. June 28 in Village Hall.