Monday, August 6, 2007

Post Breaking News--Monday, August 6th

This should be an interesting week. Post breaking news from Monday, August 6th, in the comments to this post.

Feel free to send me documents that might be of interest to readers at:

Please specify any limitations on use and/or attribution concerning any materials you send.

I'm looking for a copy of the draft legislation that is supposed to emerge from LRB today.

Read breaking news from late last week here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ryan's Springfield Budget Battle Blog

Ryan from the WLS Newsroom is in Springfield covering what has become a record setting overtime legislative session. Read his blog here....

Mass transit breakdown.

As we head into what could be the final days of the legislative session, I figured I'd breakdown where things are at in the mass transit bailout and where they could be headed.

As you may well know the CTA, Metra, and Pace need hundreds of millions of dollars from the state to keep their operations going through the end of the year.

If they don't get the money they need they'll layoff employees, cut service, and raise fares.

State Representative Julie Hamos (D-Chicago) has been working on a plan for weeks that would increase the sales tax in Chicago by a quarter of one percent and in the collar counties by half of one percent. There would also be a real estate transfer tax instituted in the city. All of the money would go to the cash strapped transit agencies. She hopes its a silver bullet to not only fill in this years budget gap, but also prevent problems like this in the future.

As of a few days ago Hamos was confident she had the votes to pass it. But Hamos, and other House Democrats, tell me House Republicans pulled their support in hopes it would speed up approval of a program to build new roads, bridges, and schools.

But that capital plan is now on the backburner.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) says he still wants to move Hamos' bill if he can.

"I support the bill and we're working to get sufficient votes to pass the bill. It's going to require 71 votes in the House, the governor has said he's going to veto the bill, so there will be a motion to override. So that's a significant vote count and I'm working to get those votes," said Madigan.

The House GOP leader says mass transit is still on their radar and a big issue - but won't say if they're using it as a bargaining chip to get a capital bill.

So if Hamos' bill isn't voted on this week, what happens?

Well, if a capital bill is not passed in the coming days - which is looking more and more likely - there's talk of calling lawmakers back after a budget is passed, maybe sometime in September. Then they'll take up the issue of a capital bill and mass transit.

That's cutting it pretty close to the CTA's planned doomsday scenario where bus drivers are laid off, some "L" routes are shut down, and fares jump.

If lawmakers can agree on a capital bill and mass transit bailout in early September all the bad things the CTA and PACE say will happen could be averted.

If it takes longer...then welcome to doomsday land.

BUT, the CTA does have a second contingency plan to reverse the doomsday scenario of the state does come through with the money.

Clear as mud, right?

(posted 1:20 P.M. 8/4)