As the Illinois General Assembly speeds – or plods, depending on how you look at it – to a self-imposed finish line this week, MPC is aghast at how many critical issues facing our state have again been deferred. But even this year, there are some pockets of good news and we congratulate lawmakers on the approval of three bills that will help improve communities across Illinois:
- The Pedestrian Safety Act requires drivers to stop, not just yield, to pedestrians in a crosswalk. This change will make our streets safer and hopefully encourage people to get out and walk more to the great destinations in our communities.
- The Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit was renewed. This tax credit rewards employers who are helping their employers become stable homeowners through employer-assisted housing (EAH) initiatives. Next stop for both bills: Gov. Quinn's desk, for his signature! Currently, the state allocates $2 million of the $13M tax credit for EAH, leveraging up to $4 million in private investment. Originally to expire at the end of 2011, the credit has been extended through 2016.
- The Illinois General Assembly adopted the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Housing + Transportation Affordability Index as the state standard for measuring affordability. Housing and transportation are the top two household expenses, so this index will provide a truer measure of affordability for Illinois residents.
Next stop for all three pieces of legislation: Gov. Quinn’s desk, for his signature. Kudos to everyone involved in getting these important bills passed.
Invoking personal privilege, my “link of the week” is an article I wrote! It ran as an op-ed this week in Crain’s Chicago Business and it broke down the tourism-related economic benefits of the federal government’s $1.2 billion investment in faster train service between Chicago and St. Louis. MPC’s analysis projects 800,000 new tourists will visit Chicago over the next 10 years as a result of these faster trains, delivering $510 million in direct and indirect tourist spending, $120 million in new tax revenues, 5,300 new jobs, and $2.6 billion in wages associated with those jobs. In short, the tourism-related benefits alone substantiate the investment – good news for taxpayers. Download the complete study from MPC’s web site.