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'Illinois Works' a Capital Plan to Rebuild Infrastructure

From J. Dennis Hastert and Glenn Poshard

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[March 11, 2008]  Wherever you live in the state, you're probably not that far away from an overcrowded school, a road or bridge that needs immediate repair, or a Main Street that needs an infusion of economic development.

Schools across Illinois report a need of more than 13,000 classroom repair, renovation and expansion projects. Seventy-five percent of our state highways are more than 40 years old and are near the end of their original design life. Illinois' institutions of higher learning have not had significant resources for campus improvements for nearly 10 years. Our passenger and freight trains crawl along at a fraction of their possible speed because track repairs have not been made.

As you can see, it is imperative and long overdue that we invest in rebuilding Illinois. A strong state infrastructure fosters business growth, world-class schools and thriving communities. However, it has been nine years since Illinois has had a capital improvement bill.

Last month, Gov. Blagojevich proposed a $25 billion infrastructure improvement plan called Illinois Works. This plan is designed to make the necessary investments in our schools, roads, bridges, airports and transit systems. In addition to repairing and rebuilding our infrastructure, Illinois Works will also support 700,000 jobs and stimulate our slowing economy. Furthermore, Illinois taxpayers have already paid millions into federal funds through gas taxes. This plan will take full advantage of over $9 billion in federal money available to Illinois for capital improvements -- but only if we pass a capital bill. We must not leave this money on the table.

The Illinois Works plan recognizes that every corner of the state is in need of some kind of investment. Illinois Works doesn't pit big cities versus small towns, and it doesn't pit east versus west or north versus south.

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As such, the governor has asked the two of us to lead a statewide coalition of business, labor and community leaders who will join our efforts to seek passage of a capital bill. This coalition will travel across the state talking to people about the urgent need for a capital plan. More importantly, we will listen to your stories and assess your community's needs firsthand. At the end of the day, a capital improvement plan isn't just about roads, bridges, buses or trains. It's about you and your quality of life and a better Illinois for our children and grandchildren.

A capital bill will only pass if we all join together. That is why we agreed to join together to lead this historic coalition. We are asking the same from each of you. Please join us now. The need for a capital plan is urgent.

Many times throughout our careers in public service, we have joined together in a bipartisan fashion to improve our great state. This is one of those times. It's time to rebuild our infrastructure and put Illinois to work.

Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Honorable Glenn Poshard
Co-chairs, Illinois Works Coalition

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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