By Monique Garcia
3:21 PM CDT, July 22, 2014
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation today to allow the state to borrow $1.1 billion to extend a statewide construction program.
The four-year road and bridge plan piggybacks off of an existing building program that’s wrapping up. The construction spending will be paid for through money raised by the 2009 legalization of video gambling at bars and truck stops as well as increased drivers fees and taxes on candy, liquor, soda and beauty products.
The measure was supported in the waning days of the spring session by Democrats and Republicans, as both parties will benefit from a summer of ribbon cutting ceremonies ahead of the Nov. 4 election.
Projects included in the plan range from rebuilding bridges on I-55 that feed into Lake Shore Drive, resurfacing stretches of Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, Niles and Glenview and resurfacing Rand Road from the Lake County line to Golf Road. A full list of projects can be found here.
Quinn used the opportunity to once again tout his proposal that would make permanent the 67 percent income tax rate increase that’s set to expire starting next year. The Democratic governor argued that without the money the tax generates, the state’s budget would be billions out of whack and Illinois would be hit with higher borrowing costs for similar construction projects.
The governor’s comments came one day after Republican opponent Bruce Rauner opened the door to potentially extending the income tax hike, which is scheduled to fall from 5 percent to 3.75 percent just days before the new governor is sworn into office in January. The drop would cause a $4 billion hole the first year.
Rauner said he eventually wants to rate to roll back to 3 percent by the end of his first term in office, but said he will work with lawmakers to determine how to slowly decrease the tax rate. He also has proposed expanding the state’s sales tax to 32 new services, including advertising, storage and printing.
Quinn today dismissed Rauner’s tax plan as “dishonest,” saying rolling back the tax increase would result in massive cuts to education and other services.
“We need an honest approach to this, we can’t have a flim-flam approach,” Quinn said.
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