By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Southern Illinois Builders Association CEO Donna Richter says the Illinois General Assembly’s move to pass a six-year, $45 billion capital improvements bill to fund infrastructure construction projects statewide – with some funding for vertical construction as well – is long in coming but very welcomed.
Richter, whose organization has been known since its founding in 1945 as “the voice of the construction industry in southern Illinois,” includes hundreds of general contractors, specialty subcontractors, engineers and members from related industries who have also been waiting a long time to see a new capital bill on the table and approved in Illinois.
During an add-on day to the session’s regular close on Friday, May 31, legislators reconvened in Springfield on Sunday, June 2 to hammer out the capital bill and several other major pieces of legislation, all with strong bipartisan support.
Passed by a bipartisan vote in both Illinois chambers – Illinois House of Representatives 83-29 and Illinois Senate 48-9-1 – the bill was signed into law on Wednesday, June 5 by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.
The new capital bill includes funding for roads, bridges, mass transit, schools, prisons and other public works. Of the total $45 billion allotted, $9 billion in bonding for vertical capital projects and $9.3 billion in pay-as-you-go plus $11 billion in bonds for transportation projects over the next six years.
SB 1939, the funding bill, raises the gas tax by 19 cents per gallon and raises the diesel tax by 24 cents per gallon, according to Richter. The legislation also calls for an increase in the cost of vehicle registrations by $50 annually, $100 annually for trucks. Electric vehicles will pay an additional $100 annual registration fee.
Beginning July 1, 2021, the state sales tax on motor fuel will be transferred to transportation at the rate of 1 percent each year for 5 years. Certificates of title will also increase, based upon the value of the vehicle.
Holland Construction Services Project Executive Ryan Savage says the new capital bill is a shot in the arm for school districts across Illinois. Holland is a long-time SIBA member.
“The School Construction Law (Public Act 90-548) that the Illinois General Assembly passed in December 1997 benefitted nearly 500 school districts statewide and provided more than $3.1 billion in state funds for building and renovating local public schools,” said Savage. “All funds authorized by the General Assembly and the governor for this program were depleted in 2013. The need for a statewide supplemental funding source is clear, as is the economic impact of school construction projects for the businesses and workforce associated with the design and construction industry. We are excited for our local school districts as this is long-awaited, welcomed assistance. We look forward to seeing the positive impact it brings to communities throughout the state,” he added.