May 26, 2009

Illinois Looks to Create $12 Billion for Infrastructure

State will draw money from video gambling and other alternative sources

When people go for a poker flush on a video screen in Illinois, they will be
plugging the drain of an infrastructure system that was going down the tubes
due to lack of funding.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was expected to sign a $26 billion infrastructure
plan that will pull revenue from the legalization of video poker and other
alternative sources.
Quinn has been a strong supporter of a massive public works program, but
he might hold on signing the bill to gain leverage over state lawmakers, who
still need to agree on a new state operating budget.
Along with cashing in on video poker patrons, the state will generate $12
billion from partially privatizing the state lottery and allowing lottery
tickets to be purchased over the Internet, raising the annual license plate
fee $20 and increasing the tax on liquor, candy and some beauty aids. The
federal government will match every dollar of the new multiyear program.
The infrastructure plan is separate from the state’s almost $60 billion
annual operating budget, which could be suffering from a $12 billion deficit
in FY 2010. Quinn wants to increase the state’s 3% flat rate tax to 4.5% to
help gain some financial ground.
Illinois’ last major infrastructure program, called Illinois FIRST, was
put into action back in 1999. The five-year plan also contained $12 billion.