Transportation-related funds — generated in part by tolls, license fees and the gas tax — have been targeted by Illinois politicians for unrelated spending over the years. The Transportation for Illinois Coalition, made up of business groups and unions, estimates that since fiscal year 2003 over $6.8 billion set aside for transportation projects was spent elsewhere.
Playing bait-and-switch with state revenue is a time honored tradition in Illinois which is now around $321.4 billion (as of 2014) in debt, according to Ballotpedia.org, due to lawmakers passing bills for unfunded projects and pulling money out of other state accounts to get by in the short term.
Democratic state Rep. Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg sponsored the amendment as a good alternative to raising taxes that’ll also increase safety and help draw new companies to Illinois.
The lockbox amendment would attempt to keep money designated for transportation construction from being siphoned off to other state debts.
For the amendment to pass, it will take either 60 percent of the people voting to approve the amendment, or a majority of everyone voting in the election overall.
Michael Sturino, head of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, admits it’s written in “confusing and complex legalese.” The Illinois Chamber of Commerce, construction groups, and unions have raised $1.2 million to launch an awareness campaign in hopes voters will understand the proposed amendment and how to vote their choice.
And as we say in Illinois, vote early and vote often.