Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker signed into law a plan that will put $45 billion into state construction projects and construction related programs. The Rebuild Illinois Plan will be paid by increases in gas and cigarette taxes as well as revenue generated by the expansion of state gambling laws per Construction Dive.
The plan will be comprised of four pieces of legislation, the first of which identifies the projects that will receive funding. They include the following:
- $33.2 billion of transportation projects which will include new roads and bridges, surface rehabilitation, mass transit, passenger rail and ports
- $3.5 billion for education projects which includes deferred maintenance and new projects at both public and private universities
- $4.4 billion to renovate or build new state facilities
- $1 billion for environmental and conservation projects
- $420 million for an expansion of broadband
- $465 million toward healthcare and human services projects
- $1.8 billion for projects and programs that spur economic development such as museums and libraries as well as apprenticeships and minority owned business initiatives
New taxes will help pay for this program over the next six years. One will raise the motor fuel tax from 19 cents to 38 cents and another provision allows for a five cent increase in the special fuels tax on diesel fuel, liquefied natural gas and propane to 7.5 cents. Title and registration fees also will see increases beginning today.
The Rebuild Illinois legislation also increased state bonding authority for infrastructure projects by $22.6 billion to $60.8 billion, giving the state a boost to one of its most significant funding mechanisms.
The expansion of legalized gambling in Illinois is predicted to pay off in hundreds of millions of dollars for new construction projects and will also generate thousands of new jobs. Owners of casinos, racetracks and sports venues that hold 17,000 or more people will also now be able to offer sports betting which is expected to bring in more than $100 million each year.
The legislation also authorized licenses for six new land based casinos as opposed to riverboat venues, which are expected to create thousands of construction jobs in addition to contributing to the Rebuild Illinois initiative.
There will also be tax breaks for data center owners that make an investment of $250 million or more in Illinois as well as the establishment of the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act. Provisions of the Act will include the following:
- Creation of a pre-apprenticeship program to increase the number of people coming into the state's construction industry
- An apprenticeship program that will hopefully provide 10% of the labor on public works projects
- A bid-credit program to encourage contractors to hire a more diverse group of employees
According to The Daily Herald, the new casinos that are being planned will be in Chicago, Rockford, Danville, Williamson County and one yet to be decided site in a Cook County suburb south of Chicago.
Governor Pritzker has stated that the expansion of gaming is at the request of cities that want to make sure they have the resources to pay for police and firefighter pensions and to fund vital services.
Per The Chicago Tribune, Springfield will get millions of dollars to complete a long desired rail consolidation project which will strengthen the high-speed rail connection between Chicago and St. Louis and moving all passenger and freight rail traffic through the capital city to one set of tracks, removing a physical division between its east and west sides.
It will be up to the Illinois Gaming Board to issue licenses for new casinos, sportsbooks and expanded gambling options at horse tracks and this could take several months. Reviewing and approving applications for gambling licenses is a complex process that includes conducting extensive criminal background checks and other requirements. Supporters of the new casinos say that the increase in casinos will keep gamblers from taking their money across the border to Indiana or Wisconsin.
Posted by Judy Lamelza