Skeptics will doubt it, considering the abysmal shape of Illinois' roads. It's almost as if our roads were intentionally left to fall apart so politically connected contractors will keep busy fixing them.
Nevertheless it raises some questions:
What the hell is in the $41 billion, oops, suddenly the $45 billion capital program enacted by the Illinois Legislature?
Ya know, as long as we're spending $40 billion why not go for $45 billion? Or $50 billion?
Not that we got a chance to look, to debate and prioritize where all that money would go. Along with the companion $40 billion "balanced" (ha ha to that) state operating budget, the two-fer package of more than $80 billion and 1,000 pages was passed virtually in a day, ballooning to the biggest state spend-fest of all time.
But it took more than a day to separate the winners from the losers. The back-room plotting and logrolling took months. Who knows what trade-offs were made? Why a bridge here instead of an expanded intersection there? Italian dictator Benito Mussolini would have been a perfect fit for Illinois; in order to make the trains run on time, you need to avoid messy democratic debate. Perfect for Illinois. In Illinois, we have an oligarchy that has no use for democracy, except to rubber stamp a graduated income tax.
Can Illinois afford any fancy new projects when the state, its cities, counties and townships can't seem to keep up what's already here?
"Crumbling bridges" has become a cliche, but we've got plenty. Century-old railroad viaducts, sewer and water lines, disintegrating curbs and gutters, shoreline erosion and more. All those potholes? One can suspect that our roads were intentionally made to expire early--kind of a planned obsolescence--to keep our road builders happy. It's not just a coincidence that asphalt, concrete and associated businesses comprise one of Illinois' most powerful lobbies.
When government plans glorious new projects, is the cost of maintenance, repair and replacement included in the price? We love new stuff, which is why metropolitan areas keep expanding, creating decaying donut holes in the middle.
Yet, big, new projects keep eyes starry in the legislative chambers and bureaucratic caverns of government. A prime example: a pricey extension of the CTA's Red Line miles south, when an upgrade of Metra's electric line that already serves the area would be as effective, if not more so, at far less cost.
Yet, in this nearly broke state of Illinois, we are expected to believe that we can do it all--keeping up the old stuff and building new. Not to worry, I guess. Because as long was big banks, bond houses and other monied interests are willing to risk investing in high-yield, near-junk Illinois bonds to pay for it all, the state will survive.
Thus, putting our future in the hands of the money bags that progressives despise. Thanks for that.