Quincy Chamber of Commerce Supports Constitutional Amendment on Transportation Funding
Voters will go to the polls this November to vote on races of national, state and local significance. But they will also have the opportunity to approve an amendment to the Illinois Constitution – the Safe Roads Amendment – that will protect transportation user fees for all modes of transportation from being taken for other purposes.
The Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce is supportive of this amendment because we believe it is good for the state’s and region’s economies and will hold government accountable for honest and transparent taxing and spending. We were pleased to see this newspaper weigh in with strong support in an editorial on September 25.
Like the Herald-Whig editors, Chamber members are concerned that a state government pattern of taking transportation funds away from transportation investment and using those funds on other programs has had a negative impact on our economy – both in the short-term and in the long-term.
Short-term, the $6.8 billion in transfer to other programs have had a net economic loss of $3.2 billion. So, even though the money was spent to support jobs and programs outside transportation, the net loss to our economy over the past decade was significant. Looking ahead, as we face continued decline in the condition of our roads, bridges, transit systems, airports, railways and waterways, the cost to our businesses and to those purchasing goods here in Illinois will increase, making Illinois businesses less competitive with their counterparts in other states and countries.
The transportation infrastructure Illinois has been blessed with and on which our economy has been built is the single biggest factor in our state’s business and economic health. Letting that go untended will have consequences for decades to come.
This amendment won’t save the dollars that have already been diverted, but it will protect funding going forward and, we hope, will help prevent the further decline of our critically important transportation network. Some opponents say this is a radical idea and benefit only special interests. Those claims are misguided. Thirty states have constitutional protections for their transportation funds. This is hardly radical. And protection of these funds for their intended purposes benefits all Illinoisans through economic gains and quality of life improvement.
Even when the economy is slumping, our transportation network is one strong and compelling reason why businesses continue to locate and operate here. Let’s protect this important asset for safety reasons and to begin to restore taxpayer confidence in lllinois’ budgeting. Join us in voting yes on the first question on the November ballot.