The first infrastructure council meeting of 2019 is scheduled or Thursday, April 4th at 8:30 in Springfield at the Hanson Professional Services offices. If you plan to come down for the meeting, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition is holding their lobby day April 3rd and Chamber members are welcome to participate in the lobby day or the reception at the end of the day, so you can see legislators and network with a wider group of people April 3rd followed by our meeting April 4th. Please RSVP to me and let me know if you plan to attend the TFIC events also.
Thank you to our meeting sponsor BNSF Railway.
The House Appropriations-Capital Committee met again this week to discuss capital needs for transit, air, rail, waterways, and ports. Representatives from the Chicago area transit agencies, downstate transit, and air testified before the committee about their capital needs. Transit emphasized their lack of ongoing state funding for capital and their significant capital backlogs. They also discussed the value transit services bring to communities around the state.
Rail representatives testified about the impact of freight rail on the Illinois economy and the fact that railroads maintain their own infrastructure. Passenger rail needs were discussed also, with the committee encouraged to support efforts to make a statewide comprehensive rail plan.
I spoke about the importance of our waterways and ports to international trade and many industries in the state. I also discussed the capital needs for the state's port authorities and the locks and dams along the Illinois waterway and highlighted the age and underfunding of the locks and dams along our borders.
The committee took good notes and engaged in the testimony for all of the modes.
The Senate Appropriations and Transportation Committees will meet again in Decatur on Monday to continue to hear about capital needs throughout the state.
Coverage of the House Ways and Means and Senate Environment and Public Works meetings last week continued. USDOT Secretary Chao called for a bill by August so that it could be signed before major campaigning begins and the House Committee looked at revenue options while the Senate focused on highlighting the benefits of infrastructure investment. Challenges remain, including the President's decision to leave crafting the bill up to Congress and differing perspectives on whether (and how) to include climate change resiliency or mitigation efforts in the bill. Coverage from
E & E news
, and AASHTO on the
This week, the President's proposed budget was released. The President once again proposed cutting funding for Amtrak and pushing that responsibility to states and funding for transit and rail grants through the Capital Investment Grants program. FAST Act funding levels would remain and funding for the INFRA and BUILD grant programs would be increased. This budget is only a proposal and would need to be approved by Congress. Last year, Congress chose to continue funding for Amtrak and the Capital Investment Grants program.
No key legislation we are watching for infrastructure council moved out of committee this week.
You can review the legislation I am tracking at the links below. We have passed the bill introduction deadline, so if you see any legislation with which you have concerns, please let me know. I have included the summary of each bill in these reports.