Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Proposed FY 2008 State Capital Budget: More Coal in the RTA's Stocking

A earlier post outlined how the Governor's proposed FY 2008 Operating Budget reflected gubernatorial rejection of the entreaties by the RTA and the Moving Beyond Congestion proponents to add $400 million in new annual operating subsidies for the public transit system in northeastern Illinois.

The Governor's proposed FY 2008 Capital Budget underscores that the Governor doesn't appear to be buying what the RTA is selling, namely, an additional $2 billion a year in capital funding for public transit in the six-county RTA region. Instead, the Governor proposes that the State provide the following capital investments in the RTA system (pg. 43 of 162):

FY 2008: $200 million
FY 2009: $110 million
FY 2010: $115 million

The three-year total--$425 million--is a mere 7.1% of the $6 billion that the RTA seeks over the same period.

There is a small silver lining, however. The RTA's 2007 Budget (pg. 120 of 146) notes that the State had programmed no capital money for public transit in its FY 2007 Capital Budget. Accordingly, the RTA assumed in its Five-Year Capital Program that it would not be getting any State capital money.

This means that the $425 million that is in the Governor's proposed budget is found money for the RTA and the service boards. Perhaps they can use this additional money to serve as a local match for additional capital dollars from the federal government. The State's capital investment over the next three years certainly won't generate anywhere close to the $2 billion a year in new capital funding that the RTA seeks, but it is better than nothing.

But not much more than nothing. Finding $4 on the street, while pleasant, is not as much fun as having $60 in the bank. That's the same scale of the difference between what the RTA will get over the next three years under the Governor's proposed Capital Budget and what it seeks.

The Governor's proposed FY 2008 Capital Budget illustrates that the RTA's Moving Beyond Congestion effort has yet to gain traction in Springfield. But hope no doubt springs eternal as the Moving Beyond Congestion proponents get ready for the legislative home stretch.


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