23 News Reporter Laura Gibbs went to Springfield to find out where the major roadblocks are and if the political impasse can be broken between Legislators and the Governor.
What's going in the state capital is enough to make anyone's head spin. Political parties tend to stick together fighting for the plan each party favors. Right now that divide on road expenditures is significant. The battle lines are drawn over Governor Blagojevich's $3.2 billion Capital Spending program.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said, "If the Republicans want to stop playing partisan politics we can create 230,000 jobs over the next several months."
The Capital Bill is part of the Governor's Opportunity Returns program. Among projects aimed toward the Stateline are: engineering beginning in 2007 for Illinois 2 north of Rockford, South Main Street, Illinois 173, and US 20 in Stephenson County. The Federal government picks up half of the $6.2 million tab. Right now Blagojevich is pressuring lawmakers by saying Illinois would have to forfeit federal road dollars if the state doesn't come up with its portion of the funding.
State Representative Ron Wait (R) says, "These federal funds are earmarked and dedicated. We have enough in regular road budget to match any federal money so we will not lose any money. He's just holding that out to see who will blink first."
89th District Representative Jim Sacia (R) stated, "I will support a Capitol bill if he'll show me a revenue stream. The way things are now I am having a real problem with that."
Republicans say Blagojevich is stalling making a political football out of this issue. Senator Dave Syverson(R) tells 23 News, "Our local projects can move forward if state agrees to pay for engineering. If they don't pay they'll at least allow city/county to advance money to keep projects moving forward."
Another way to get a green light for road repairs is the five year road plan. The Illinois Department of Transportation puts all road projects in order of importance. But according to Syverson, the 5 year plan must not be a priority to the Governor because he keeps yanking millions of dollars out of the road fund and putting that money into new programs.
Syverson says, "We have diverted an excessive of billions of dollars out of the Road Program that cold have put a lot of people to work and fix roads."
Every time we fill up our gas tanks, the state Gas Tax to repair roads is included in the cost of each gallon. Senator Syverson wants to pass a constitutional amendment so no politician can divert these funds to anything other than roads and streets. In the coming weeks funding for roads is certain to get even more contentious, as pressure on the legislature and the Governor grows to pass a 2007 budget. On Tuesday 23 News will continue this story by finding out what road projects have been carried over from one administration to another. Also what roads are tops on the Illinois Department of Transportations list.