Politics & Government

Pritzker signs capital, gaming bills, touts capital plan benefits during stop in metro-east

Gov. J.B. Pritzker touts $45 billion worth of capital investment

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker touts the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital bill during a visit to East St. Louis. Bill will improve roads, bridges, infrastructure and be paid by increase in Illinois gas tax by $ 0.19 and cigarette tax by $1,
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Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker touts the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital bill during a visit to East St. Louis. Bill will improve roads, bridges, infrastructure and be paid by increase in Illinois gas tax by $ 0.19 and cigarette tax by $1,

Gas taxes, cigarette taxes and vehicle registration fees are going up. Gambling is going to be expanded. In return, residents will see a statewide six-year $45 billion investment roads and state facilities.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed the capital bill package which includes the infrastructure spending plan, and the expanded revenue streams to pay for it.

To tout the investment, Pritzker had a three-stop tour in the state on Friday. It started in East St. Louis, which was followed by the bill signing ceremony in Springfield and a stop in Joliet.

On Monday and Tuesday, Pritzker is scheduled to speak about the gaming expansion at several locations around the state, including a stop at Walker’s Bluff on Tuesday.

In order to pay for the Rebuild Illinois Plan, the state gasoline tax doubles from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents per gallon, starting on Monday. The gas tax will be pegged to inflation.

State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, discusses the capital infrastructure bill, and a related gas tax increase, which she voted against.

Other revenue streams in a cigarette tax increase of $1 per pack, effective Monday, along with higher vehicle registration fees next year. The legislation package also includes a gaming expansion and a parking garage tax.

The state’s gas tax was last changed in the 1990s.

“I’m proud to tell you, families across Illinois are going to benefit in a significant way,” Pritzker said during his planned stop in East St. Louis. “They’re going to see cost savings … because the amount of money people are saving when their tires aren’t blown out because of a pothole they’re hitting on the highway, the amount of money they’re saving because they don’t have to go in and have their steering realigned, by getting to work faster, (and) picking up their kids faster. The productivity increases far outstrips any costs to people across the state.”

He added if the gas tax had been indexed to inflation in 1990 when it was set at 19 cents, the gas tax would be 38 cents per gallon today.

“We would have experienced all of the investment that would have come from the dollars in the gas tax over all those years. We did not. We need to make up for that,” Pritzker said.

Increased gambling in the state

The gaming expansion, which allows casinos to expand to a maximum of 2,000 positions, up from 1,200 gaming positions, and allows the horse racetracks, including Fairmount Park in Collinsville, in the state to have casino-style gaming. It also legalizes sports betting in the state.

The gaming expansion bill also included increases in video gaming, which is legal in taverns, truck stops and fraternal organizations.

Video gaming taxes are increased from the current 30 percent to 33 percent in first year, and 34 percent in the second year and beyond.

Video gaming will be allowed to expand through increased maximum bets from $2 to $4, a six-machine maximum at video gaming locations (up from five machines), and progressive jackpots. Truck stops with at least 50,000 gallons or more of fuel sold can have up to 10 video gaming terminals under the proposal.

Vehicle registration fees will increase to $151 to help pay for roadwork. Those fees would go into effect for people who renew their license plates next year. Registration of an electric vehicle will cost $248 a year, instead of $35 for two years.

Title registration fees also will increases from $95 to $150 for regular title fees and $95 to $250 for mobile homes. There will be a decrease in the duplicate title fee from $95 to $50. The salvage certificate fee does increase from $4 to $20.

Capital bill projects

Hundreds of millions of dollars in spending is coming to the metro-east as part of Rebuild Illinois.

The capital bill sets aside $2 million for demolition of derelict buildings and abandoned properties in East St. Louis.

“Eyesore properties do more than lower property values in deter economic development. They’re also a safety issue for families in the neighborhoods and can enhance criminal activity,” said state Sen. Chris Belt, D-Cahokia, whose district includes East St. Louis.

The plan also includes $1 million for capital improvements in the East Side Health District for urban farming and clinic services.

“Access to fresh foods shouldn’t be out of reach to families simply because of where you live,” Belt said.

State Sen. Chris Belt speaks about the Rebuild Illinois capital plan on June 28, 2019. Joseph Bustos jbustos@bnd.com

The capital plan includes $96 million to extend the MetroLink from the Shiloh Scott station to MidAmerica airport.

St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said the extension will go north around Scott Air Force Base to the airport on county-owned land.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker discusses his desire for a capital bill. He also talks about possible funding sources.

Also locally, there will be $105.3 million for a health sciences building and other improvements at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, $1.6 million for improvements at the intersection of Hartman Lane and Central Park in O’Fallon, $300,000 for a splash pad in Belleville, $750,000 for improvements in Clinton Hill Conservation Park in Swansea, and $700,000 for a sanitary sewer extension along Illinois 159 and 162 in Maryville, among other things.

“This is the most we’ve gotten in a long time,” said Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert. “There is infrastructure that needs to be addressed.”

The state also plans to spend $55 million for construction of a new combined Illinois State Police facility in the metro-east, and $211.6 million for a planned new Interstate 270 bridge over the Mississippi River in a shared project with Missouri.

Other projects include:

  • $146 million on I-255/U.S. 50 from Illinois 3 to Collinsville Road for bridge, ramp and shoulder repairs, and road resurfacing.
  • $81 million for the Illinois 3 connector project, which includes reconstruction of portions of Exchange Avenue, and new construction of the Illinois 3 connector.
  • $33 million for a new interchange on I-255 at Imbs Station Road with a connection to Davis Street Ferry Road in Dupo.
  • $35 million on I-55/I-64 at Poplar Street to preserve eastbound access via Illinois 3, and Tudor and Piggott avenues.
  • $32 million on I-64 from Greenmount Road to Illinois 158 for additional lanes and bridge repairs.
  • $20 million on I-55/I-64, Illinois 3 for reconstruction and bridge rehabilitation from the Mississippi River to I-64.

Pritzker also addressed reports that Democratic state senators and representatives each received twice as much money for projects in their districts than their Republican colleagues.

“A majority of the money from the capital bill will go to roads and bridges and other infrastructure in downstate Illinois, which is mostly represented by Republican representatives and state senators,” Pritzker said. “We’re working hard to make sure there’s fairness across the state and across all the districts.”

Not everyone was thrilled with Pritzker’s tour touting the new infrastructure spending.

Ideas Illinois Chairman Greg Baise called it a “tax and spend” tour.

“(Speaker) Mike Madigan has run Illinois for almost 40 years and has failed to maintain Illinois’ crumbling infrastructure and now Governor Pritzker wants to cut ribbons instead of admit that in order to pay for his massive spending binge he needs a blank check from taxpayers,” Baise said in a news release. “Polling shows that public support for lifting the cap on taxes is falling fast because no amount of shiny objects will get taxpayers to trust politicians in Springfield.”

What do vehicle registration fees pay for?

Motorists have to go to driver services offices to pay for annual vehicle registrations and to obtain a sticker to place on their license plates. What does the money pay for? Currently the fee is $101. It will increase to $151 in 2020.

$101 split

  • $1 - State Police equipment
  • $2 - Department of Natural Resources (state parks)
  • $20 - Capital Projects fund
  • $28.86 - State Construction fund
  • $49.14 - Road Fund

$151 split

  • $1 - State Police equipment
  • $1 - Secretary of State Special Services fund
  • $2 - Department of Natural Resources (state parks)
  • $20 - Capital Projects fund
  • $28.86 - State Construction fund
  • $98.14 - Road fund
Source: Secretary of State’s Office
Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.