Friday, August 10, 2007

Update on Budget and Transit Funding

You can read the newspapers and the CapitalFax Blog for all the details. Briefly, the Senate approved the operating budget (HB 3860) by a 52-5 margin and sent it back to the House for final approval today.

The Senate narrowly rejected a capital construction program. It appears that Republicans failed to come through in suppport of that program as may have been promised, prompting this outburst by Senator Emil Jones:

Sen. Watson," Jones bellowed, "I am through meeting. My patience has worn thin because there's not one sincere bone in your body. You're not interested in doing anything about the roads. You aren't interested in doing anything about the bridges, and you don't give a damn about whether our schools across the state of Illinois have a capital bill.

(I thought the Senate Dems had a veto-proof majority, so maybe Senator Jones needs to look within his own ranks.)

Work is still ongoing on a capital plan funded by a Chicago casino. SB 572, the transit funding and RTA "reform" bill, remains in the mix. Here is what seems to be a well-informed view by a poster to the previous blog entry:

It was always the plan that SB 572 would be standalone legislation. Weeks ago it was thought the bill would be called on its own. But of course it will only pass in the context of a larger deal. If that deal happens it will include capital and transit operating, basically a trade between Republicans and Chicago dems. Whether the operating comes from the casino or from sales tax remains to be seem. And finally, Madigan is fully behind and intends to get 572 passed. He is a cunning, strategic man who usually gets what he wants.

It's not over yet.


Representataive Julie Hamos, who could have been the poster for all we know, has a similar view:

The budget negotiations left many other major issues dangling, including funding for the Chicago Transit Authority and other regional transit agencies.

After months of negotiations, Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston) introduced legislation to help fund mass transit by imposing a quarter-cent sales tax in Cook and the five collar counties and another quarter-cent bump in the collar counties. Her proposal would authorize the city to impose a higher real estate transfer tax to help underwrite CTA expenses.

She predicted the issue could be worked out over the next few weeks—and before fare hikes and transit cuts are imposed in September—during negotiations over a construction program and possibly the governor's health-care package.

I won't be in a position to post until this evening so use the comments to add news items.

9 comments:

jackonthebus said...

The Tribune article you cited is typical of the doubletalk. The headline is "$600 million for schools, $0 for CTA" and you have the Dunkin quote, then you have the quotes from Hamos in paragraph 22. As yesterday's commentator said, our understanding was that SB572 was a separate issue from the budget. Either the gov and Tribune are ignoring that fact, or undisclosed stuff is happening in Springfield. And getting back to Wednesday's point, how can the citizenry get worked up if we can't even get the information?

Anyway, we'll find out today if the "final action deadline" is further extended. Place you bets at the site (land or virtual) of the Chicago Casino.

pjs said...

it definately appears the general assembly will be returning to springfield after passing a budget, in order to address capital and transit. I am not sure they will be able to do that before the new sept. 16th deadline from the CTA.

With the "revised" doomsday scenario, does anyone else think the CTA lost its leverage? I mean $3.50 for an el ride ain't that bad.

jackonthebus said...

According to the Fare Structure chart the highest peak fare is $3.00, and add $.25 for a transfer, where available. Chicago Card holders' fares don't go up as much. What might get the screams is the $2.50 cash bus peak fare with no transfer.

With regard to leverage, CTA and Pace will have it either one day before their scenarios kick in, or sometime thereafter when there are actually hurt passengers who will be expected to complain.

outerdriveexpress said...

Lake Shore Drive bus lanes: Blame Rio?

August 10, 2007
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter fspielman@suntimes.com
Four years ago, Mayor Daley opened the door to dedicated bus lanes on Lake Shore Drive to give 62,000 daily riders speedier, more dependable service.

On Thursday, the mayor was touting the idea -- as his Department of Transportation prepares to study the impact on traffic and travel times.

"You get on a bus on the South Side and someone gets in a car, you should be able to be downtown first and not the car. That's what we have to look at," Daley said.

The mayor said he saw a "fascinating bus transportation system" during his recent trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to attend the Pan American Games.

"All the money we're spending to remodel the L's and the tunnel system. That is an enormous amount of money. You'll have to put it in [again] in another 20 years or 30 years. Some way, you have to look at some form of a bus system," he said.

CTA President Ron Huberman acknowledged that Daley has "challenged us to find innovative ways to make bus service a faster, more reliable and more competitive alternative to driving."

Idea was studied, rejected
In 1998, the Chicago Department of Transportation studied dedicated bus lanes on Lake Shore Drive, only to drop the idea for two reasons: Logistics made it difficult and the volume of passengers using CTA express buses did not, at that time, justify the idea.

Since then, ridership has increased to 77,000 a day -- so much that CDOT is about to launch another feasibility study.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/95/SB/09500SB0572ham003.htm

Anonymous said...

SB 572 is finally complete.

Anonymous said...

Here is a better link.

heardthismorning said...

WLS: "What about the CTA, is there money in there to fund CTA, RTA?"

Madigan: "This budget does not provide INCREASED support for the CTA and the RTA. The usual level of support from the state for the CTA and the RTA is provided for in this budget. I have told the members of the House, and I have told Representative Cross, who is the minority leader in the House, that beginning TODAY, we want to open negotiations with Mr. Cross for the passage of legislation that would provide more subsidy money for the CTA, RTA, and Pace."

WLS: "Is there any energy supporting the idea that the CTA, and Metra and Pace should be charging the actual users more instead of always relying on more taxes?"

Madigan: "We expect that there will be increased fares at the appropriate time, and that's been the history over the last 20 or 25 years. However, there have been some shifts in population, there have been some increased costs which were beyond the ordinary, so I think its appropriate that the legislature and the state government provide more subsidy for the mass transit carriers in Northeastern Illinois. But at the same time, I think it's also appropriate, from time to time, there be some fare increases."

jackonthebus said...

Among the surprises:
1. Particular mandates for the far SW area, including for BRT on I-55, and apparently to implement the Pace Will restructuring plans.
2. New seats on the RTA board, instead of the city losing a seat. Carole Brown is still out, but Daley gets another appointment. Stroger's appointment to the RTA board must be approved by the suburban county commissioners. As a consequence, under the bill it would take 12 directors to do any supermajority work, like take over an alternatives analysis study, and even 9 to even initiate the Executive Director's intervention in service disputes, so you know those won't happen.
3. Sec. 2.01e at least defines what the suburban mobility fund is for. Apparently any project that Pace can convince the RTA to fund, so long as it isn't existing fixed route bus service. So, it could be vanpool, it could be DAR, or it could be most anything else.
4. Metra directors from suburban Cook County would be appointed by districts, based on a weighted vote of those county commissioners in those geographical areas. There would be an additional director appointed by Stroger subject to suburban commissioners' approval.
5. CTA and RTA get minority contracting requirements.
6. The RTA has the authority to impose a .75% tax in the collar counties, but 1/3 of that is mandated back to the counties.