April 2004 Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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April 2004 Media Tips

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Illinois Budget Crisis Strikes at Heart of MPC Issues

The precarious position of the state and many municipal budgets poses a major threat to MPC’s core issues. Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s solutions to Illinois’ budget crisis could do serious, long-term harm to recent progress in expanding housing options, protecting the environment, and untangling traffic congestion.

Earlier this month, the governor cut the budget of the Illinois Low Income Housing Trust Fund, which helps meet the housing needs of the more than 500,000 households lacking affordable housing statewide. This followed the announcement in February of a one-year “holiday” in funding for the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development and Natural Areas Acquisition funds, which could result in the permanent loss of funding for both open land acquisition and for biologists and natural areas managers to protect Illinois’ natural areas and wildlife habitats. And, the governor has proposed expanding the motor fuel tax to non-highway users such as railroads. This would place a significant financial burden on the freight industry, which provides more than 117,000 northeastern Illinois jobs, and would jeopardize the progress made in untangling freight movement in the region.

“The painful cuts to these key programs should make it obvious that the time has come for broad fiscal reform,” said MPC Vice President of Policy and Planning Scott Goldstein. “And those reforms should start with adequately funding education.”

Contact: Scott Goldstein, Vice President of Policy and Planning, at 312.863.6003

MPC Urges Enactment of Transportation and Land Use Reforms

Citing a range of benefits from better suburban representation in regional decision-making to more transparent and efficient government, the Metropolitan Planning Council enthusiastically supported the direction of resolutions adopted by the Northeastern Illinois Regional Transportation Task Force, while recognizing the need to fine-tune proposals. The Council pledged to work with legislators in the Illinois General Assembly to gather the support to make them law, targeted for the fall veto session.

The proposal to combine the Chicago Area Transportation Study and the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) into a single body with authority over funding for transportation projects is the Council’s top priority. “It presents an opportunity to finish the work begun 47 years ago when NIPC was created,” commented MPC Board of Governors Member John Baird, chairman of Baird & Warner, Inc., who also served as NIPC commissioner from 1961 to 1973, and president from 1966 to 1970. “Reforming the way our leaders make regional transportation investments to ensure that they are balanced and coordinated with a plan for growth would have far-ranging benefits for all communities, city of Chicago and suburbs alike.”

Contact: Karyn Romano, Transportation Director, 312.863.6005

Will County Parents and A+ Illinois Take Action for Education Funding Reform

Six Illinois state legislators representing Will county districts will gather on Saturday, May 8, 2004 to hear local students, teachers, parents, homeowners, and other residents discuss concerns about the quality of education in their schools.

Senators Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete), Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), and Larry Walsh (D-Elmwood, and Representatives Lisa Dugan (D-Kankakee), Renee Kosel (R-New Lenox), and Careen Gordon (D-Coal City), will join members of A+ Illinois for a community forum at Zion Lutheran Church in Tinley Park. MPC is a leading member of A+ Illinois, a grassroots, statewide campaign to improve the quality and funding of public education in Illinois, deliver lasting property tax relief, and protect services for children, families, and communities. Other campaign members represent a range of civic, education, children’s advocacy, business, labor, civil rights, human service, and community groups.

The community forum, from 9 to 11 a.m., is free and open to media. Zion Lutheran Church is located at 17100 S. 69th Ave., three blocks east of Harlem Ave. on 171st St.

Contact: Bindu Batchu, A+ Illinois Campaign Manager, 312.863.6014

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