Pritzker Highlights Rebuild Illinois Funding for Cahokia Heights, Rend Lake Resort Sewers


Six-year $45 billion spending plan passed on bipartisan lines in 2019

SPRINGFIELD — When state lawmakers voted on bipartisan lines in 2019 to double Illinois’ fuel tax and increase several driving-related fees, it laid the groundwork for a $45 billion infrastructure plan million, the largest in Illinois history and the first in nearly a decade.

The six-year plan commits $33.2 billion to roads, bridges and other transportation-related infrastructure.

The fruits of that spending can be seen statewide in the program’s fourth year, which includes $350 million for projects on Interstates 24 and 57 in southern Illinois, and $100 million for railway, bridge and other transportation projects in the Springfield area, among others.

“That’s why I proposed and signed the historic and largest bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan in Illinois history, so we could make the repairs our residents needed in an expedited timeframe. “, Governor JB Pritzker said Wednesday. in one of two press conferences highlighting recent or upcoming spending. “And we are seeing the effects of this legislation in real time.”

The Illinois reconstruction plan also included a “vertical infrastructure” component for state buildings such as crime labs, schools and colleges, and other non-transportation infrastructure. These parts of the bill are funded by an expansion of gambling and a cigarette tax increase of $1 per pack, which were also approved in 2019.

The Rebuild Illinois revenue bills and spending plan passed with broad supermajority support from members of both parties. The gas tax hike passed 48-9 in the Senate and 83-29 in the House, while the game expansion was approved 46-10 in the Senate and 87-27 in the House.

The original Rebuild Illinois spending plan adopted even wider margins, 95-18 in the House and 53-6 in the Senate.

A lawmaker voting against all three bills was then state Rep. Darren Bailey of Xenia, who was later elected to the state Senate and is now the Republican gubernatorial nominee against Pritzker, the biggest champion of the plan.

Bailey has frequently criticized the gas tax increase in 2019, which was indexed to inflation. He attacked not only Pritzker but also State Rep. Avery Bourne of Morrisonville, the running mate of his main arch-rival who voted for the infrastructure plan in 2019.

Pritzker, meanwhile, has pledged almost weekly to go public with state infrastructure spending since the bill was passed in his first year as governor.

On Wednesday, that included stops in Cahokia Heights in Metro East and Whittington in southern Illinois to raise awareness about funding for sewer upgrades and renovations at Rend Lake Beach Resort.

Projects in Cahokia Heights, Illinois’ newest city to incorporate in 2021, will receive $21 million, including $9.9 million to revamp its sewer system — fixing a problem that it says locals, has existed in the region for more than 50 years.

State Sen. Christopher Belt, D-Swansea, told a press conference Wednesday that he was raised in Centerville, which is now part of Cahokia Heights.

“The stench of sewer backup – I grew up with it. You grew up with it so much that it became the norm,” he said.

“When the weather forecast growing up said rain or thunderstorms in Centerville, Allerton, Cahokia, what is now Cahokia Heights – that meant something totally different,” he added. “The anxiety sets in and you’re like ‘oh my God’, you know, you start boxing things, things that are precious to you, because you didn’t want to lose them.”

The $9.9 million would be released immediately by the state, Pritzker said, focusing, among other things, on repairing or replacing 35 lift stations and several thousand feet of pipeline repairs.

Cahokia Heights Mayor Curtis McCall Sr. said at the press conference “there has never been this type of money” available from the state to address the chronic problems of the region.

“I’m 60, all my life I’ve been through this,” he said. “Once we have that $10 million that the Governor deposited today, we would say probably, according to the engineers, three to five years before this project is completely finished. But I can tell you that our residents will begin to see tremendous progress as early as two months.

At another press conference in Franklin County later in the day, Pritzker announced $17.5 million from Rebuild Illinois will go towards renovating the Rend Lake Resort in Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area of ​​3 300 acres, which is operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. .

It had been closed since December 2016 after IDNR found mold and other maintenance issues on the property.

The resort site includes a hotel, conference center, cabins, restaurant, boat, gift shop, swimming pool, tennis courts and more, most of which will be renovated as part of the plan. of state construction, again allowing the station to host guests, conferences and other events.

State Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton, voted for all three components of the capital plan in 2019. He said the announcement marked one of his two best days in the past six years, the other being when he was elected to the House in 2016.

“The potential is incredible, what it’s going to bring back to southern Illinois in terms of jobs,” he said of the station. “Of course, people who have jobs, what do they do? They pay taxes. With these taxes we are able to help with things here in Southern Illinois.

Jason Ashmore, Mayor of Sesser, also hailed the economic potential.

“The resort is an important part of the regional economic engine and the resort’s return will continue to provide more opportunities for the more than 2 million visitors to the Red Lake area each year and capitalize on more tourism dollars. “, did he declare.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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