Posted on June 19, 2012 4:53 PM
End of Session Review on Transportation Bills in the Illinois General Assembly
CMAP has followed a number of transportation bills considered by the General Assembly. A previous Policy Update analyzed two bills in detail, HB 3875 and SB 3216, and provided status updates on ten other bills. Of the transportation bills that CMAP is monitoring, the following passed both the House and Senate by the end of session on May 31, 2012:
- HB 3875 would provide additional Working Cash Notes for the Regional Transportation Authority.
- HB 4036 would authorize Pace to borrow money in support of four projects identified in the bill.
- HB 4078 would authorize the Illinois Tollway to construct railroads and charge access fees to passenger and freight operators.
- HB4568 would provide an additional $1.6 billion increase to the total amount of General Obligation Bonds that the State can take on. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) would use some of these funds for its Illinois Jobs Now! capital projects.
- SB 2861 would allow IDOT to deposit funds in an escrow account for the maintenance of intercity passenger rail service. The carrier under contract with IDOT would be permitted to withdraw funds from the escrow account with the Department’s consent and under the terms of an established maintenance plan.
- SB 2937 would establish a Northwest Metra Commuter Rail District to include all municipalities within McHenry County. As a municipal corporation, the District would have eminent domain powers and the ability to levy property taxes. A property tax would have to be approved by a majority of voters, and the property tax rate would not exceed 0.25 percent of assessed value. If signed by the Governor, SB 2937 would join the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District as the region’s second new transit district created in the past year.
- SB 3216 would amend the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for Transportation Act. The changes to the Act are explained in detail in a previous Policy Update.
- SB 3318 would allow IDOT to acquire property for the Illiana Expressway project using eminent domain or quick-take powers. The bill would also clarify that a contractor’s debt undertaken for the Illiana Expressway project through a PPP not be considered a debt of the State.
The Governor is now considering whether to sign these pieces of legislation into law.
Recent Transportation Bills and GO TO 2040
The above-mentioned transportation-related bills that have passed both houses this past session are broadly consistent with GO TO 2040, but they largely make progress at the margins. SB 3216 makes important technical changes to the PPPs for Transportation Act and strengthens the procurement process, but it also limits the scope for PPPs by forbidding them on roadway improvements to existing Tollway facilities. SB 3216 also misses an opportunity to reduce the permissible term of PPPs from 99 years to a more reasonable 65 years.
Consistent with the GO TO 2040 plan’s transit priorities, HB 3875 and HB 4036 help to maintain the current transit system, and HB 4078 and SB 2937 may increase the region’s overall commitment to public transportation. However, the impact of the latter two bills is uncertain; the Illinois Tollway may choose not to exercise the new authority provided by HB 4078, and the voters of the new Northwest Metra Commuter Rail District may decide not approve property tax increases.
Several key themes from GO TO 2040 were not substantially advanced this session. In the area of strategic investment, no bills directly addressed the state’s inadequate transportation resources -- for example, increasing the state motor fuel tax by eight cents per gallon as called for in GO TO 2040. And the General Assembly did not move to support performance-based programming of state transportation funds, the implementation of congestion pricing, or the implementation of pricing strategies for parking. No bills directly dealt with freight issues, although HB 4078 would allow the Tollway to construct rail lines and SB 3318 would accelerate the delivery of the Illiana Expressway.