Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Transit Funding Alchemy?

Crain's reports that the Governor and some legislative leaders "are talking about a long-term funding plan to bail out Chicago-area mass transit agencies." According to the Governor, the plan will not include a tax on working people, i.e., the sales tax increase that is built into SB 572.

WBEZ' report on the mystery plan includes:

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says he's backing a new plan to fund mass transit without raising sales taxes. The plan, supported by House Republican Leader Tom Cross, has not been released. Blagojevich declined to give any details.

BLAGOJEVICH: You'll hear about it when we work it out with our... We got a coalition of other legislative leaders that we're working with and I just think it's important for all of us to agree to do it at the same time.

Blagojevich says he wants to announce the mass transit plan with State Senate President Emil Jones. But a spokeswoman for Jones says the president has only heard rumors of the plan.

The smart money at the office is that the mystery plan is to tap into money from new casinos.

An earlier WBEZ report quoted Representative Tom Cross as suggesting that fare increases may be part of the mix: "Cross says it's not unreasonable for the CTA to raise fares since gasoline prices have also gone up."

Information, ideas and speculation (but not snark) welcome.


Rich Miller said...

There is no agreement yet. The guv appears to have gotten ahead of himself.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, you have the same affliction that Miller has. You don't want any snark...but have you looked at the title of your post? Le droit du Signeur?

Anonymous said...

On various TV reports, the Gov said he has to talk with Madigan first about the plan, but the setting for the news conference was in front of a house in the Gov's neighborhood, where he threatened the legislature with special sessions over the holidays because it overruled his amendatory veto of the property tax cap. In the meantime, on WTTW, Julie Hamos said that if the legislation comes up on Thursday or Friday, there has to be the votes to pass it, while Christine Radogno said that the fist stage cuts should happen, because they would show the RTA that it can't come to Springfield each time it has a $200 million or $400 million problem.

Anonymous said...

I meant "first" not "fist."

Anonymous said...

Andy Shaw at ABC7:

"The governor's unwilling to bail out CTA, Metra and Pace by raising the sales tax in the Chicago area. So he and some of the other legislative leaders are reportedly considering Plan B, which pays for mass transit with a portion of the state sales tax on gasoline and fills the hole in the state budget with anticipated revenue from an expansion of gambling, including at least one new casino."

So, how many new casinos does this bring us to? Eight? Twelve?

Anonymous said...

According to those on WTTW, the Rosemont casino license, now stuck in revocation proceedings, is the 10th, and casinos would be proposed for Chicago, the north area (presumably Waukegan) and the south suburbs. That would get you to 13.

Anonymous said...

I was joking about the count -- silly SB1110 calls for three (one in Chicago, which Daley and Stroger also have their eyes on), the "Rosemont" tenth riverboat remains in the air, and this rumor might make a fourth -- but thanks.

Anonymous said...

Fare increases should not be part of the solution to RTA funding. We want people to take public transit more and drive less, so the costs should be put on driving, not public transit. Driving is environmentally harmful and there's already too much traffic to get anywhere when you truly do need to drive.

pc said...

One minor positive about the Cross (and Blago?) gas tax plan is that it uses the sales tax on gasoline, not the gas tax per se. Whereas the per-gallon gas tax is, like the sales tax, a shrinking revenue source (as fuel efficiency increases), the sales tax on gasoline increases with gas prices.