February Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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February Media Tips

MPC 2006 Election Guide Outlines Top-Priority Issues for Voters, Candidates

With the governor’s office, two-thirds of state Senate, and the entire House of Representatives on the line in Illinois ’ upcoming elections, voters will turn to local newspapers, radio and TV stations for the information they need to elect officials committed to building healthy communities. The Metropolitan Planning Council’s (MPC) 2006 Election Guide is a free 10-page booklet on five issues that will shape Chicagoland and Illinois in coming years: affordable and workforce housing; transportation priorities; education funding and tax reform; water quality and quantity; and eminent domain.

MPC staff members are available to field one-on-one follow-up questions sparked by the guide, and to host a workshop or briefing for newsroom staffs covering one or more of these key issues. To learn more, please contact Mandy Burrell , MPC communications associate, at 312.863.6018 or mburrell@metroplanning.org. To print your own copy of the Metropolitan Planning Council’s 2006 Election Guide, please visit www.metroplanning.org/articleDetail.asp?objectID=3095

MPC Backing Bill Aimed at Opening New Doors to Illinois Homebuyers, Renters

As modern consumers, we demand that the shelves at our local grocery stocks be stocked with a range of items, from Stilton cheese and lobster tails to Ramen noodles and skirt steak. Similarly, we expect to have a range of options when it comes to where and how we live. Yet Illinois’ housing market is far from offering a satisfactory level of choice, leaving families to struggle with financial burdens, overcrowding, and traffic congestion.

To ensure a range of housing options exists in all neighborhoods, especially near good jobs and transit, MPC supports passage of the Comprehensive Housing Planning Act, SB2290/HB5268. The act is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), and in the House by Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston). It would turn into law Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s 2003 executive order to enact the state’s first comprehensive housing plan, giving the order staying power beyond this governor’s term.

“Great strides have been taken as a result of the plan. H owever, the bulk of this activity has been on paper, rather than on the ground ,” said Robin Snyderman, MPC’s housing director. “We have new laws and resources at the state level, and new ordinances taking shape through city councils across the state; but m arket activity continues to underserve many Illinois households because this work takes time. W e need this act to leverage efficiencies and private sector support.”

The Comprehensive Housing Planning Act would require key state agencies to coordinate resources, encouraging on-the-ground activity among municipalities and developers. To learn more about this and other pending legislation to support affordable and workforce housing in Illinois , visit www.metroplanning.org/articleDetail.asp?objectID= 3104.

MPC contact: Robin Snyderman, Housing Director, 312.863.6007, rsnyderman@metroplanning.org

Guv’s Capital Plan Falls Short of Meeting Key Criteria for Funding, Planning

As Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich prepares for his Budget Address this Wednesday, Feb. 15 – when the governor is expected to give specific details on his proposed capital spending package, which he sketched out at his Jan. 18 State of the State address – the Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago Metropolis 2020, and Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce are hopeful the refined plan will meet four guidelines they identified as necessary for a strong state capital investment package. The plan must:

  • be well-planned, reflecting regional priorities;
  • deliver balanced investment for roads, transit and freight;
  • be fully supported by new revenue; and
  • emphasize innovation.

So far, the governor’s proposal has fallen short of meeting some of the guidelines, and coalition members say it will be worth the wait if state leaders take the time to forge an improved plan.

“A new capital program is urgently needed to complete overdue repairs and expansion,” said MarySue Barrett, MPC president. “However, if the program is merely a list of projects without a coordinated strategy for targeting new investment, the limited dollars available would be wasted – as would opportunities to balance economic growth and create more livable communities.”

“In addition to more careful planning, an effective capital program needs to be fully supported by new revenue,” said James C. LaBelle, deputy director of Chicago Metropolis 2020. “Relying on existing gas tax revenues to pay off future debt is politically attractive in the short run. But it’s unreliable and will only put us further in debt long-term because the state isn’t even raising enough to maintain today’s infrastructure, let alone finance tomorrow’s debt.”

To read the coalition’s guiding principles for a state capital investment package, visit www.metroplanning.org/resource.asp?objectID=3061. For a list of frequently asked questions on the governor's proposal, visit www.metroplanning.org/resource.asp?objectID=3115.

MPC contact: MarySue Barrett, President, 312.863.6001, msbarrett@metroplanning.org
Contact: James C. LaBelle, Deputy Director, Chicago Metropolis 2020, 312.332.8156, jim.labelle@cm2020.org

A+ Illinois Connecting Voters and Candidates at School Funding Forums

Legislative primary elections will take place March 21, giving voters a “first cut” at determining which candidates for the Illinois’ Senate and House of Representatives will serve the best interest of our children, families and communities. At two upcoming candidate forums hosted by the A+ Illinois campaign for statewide education funding and tax reform, voters will have the opportunity to test the mettle of local candidates on the issue of school funding reform.

The Greater Peoria Candidate Forum will take place March 4, 9 to 11 a.m., at Illinois Central College-North Campus, Arbor Hall Auditorium, Room #A261, 5407 N. University St., Peoria, Ill. Candidates for legislative seats representing the following communities are invited to speak: Canton, East Peoria, Galesburg, Kewanee, Metamora, Pekin, Peoria, and Washington.

The Near West Suburban Candidate Forum will take place March 6, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Nineteenth Century Club, 178 Forest Ave., in Oak Park, Ill. Candidates for legislative seats representing the following communities are invited to speak: Bellwood, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Oak Park, River Forest, and Austin (in Chicago).

For more information about these forums and other A+ Illinois events – including a March 16 event featuring noted educator, activist and author Jonathan Kozol – please visit the A+ Illinois calendar at www.aplusillinois.org/calendar/calendar.asp.

A+ Illinois contact: Bindu Batchu, Campaign Manager, 312.863.6014, bbatchu@aplusillinois.org

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