Photoillustration by Katherine Bucar
MPC has some unfinished legislative business in Springfield, which we’ll continue to work on this summer in anticipation of the fall veto session and next spring’s new General Assembly. But there was tangible progress, despite the state’s fiscal free-fall. Here’s a snapshot of what happened with the bills we supported this session:
Illinois has joined the ranks of at least 26 other states with legislation enabling public-private partnerships for infrastructure investments. A project-specific bill was passed to allow public-private financing of the Illiana Expressway, a bi-state highway in the south suburbs. PPPs also could provide an innovative financing solution to expand and modernize Chicago’s transportation network, whether through freight improvements, high speed rail, bus rapid transit, or road projects such as western access to O’Hare Airport. MPC will continue to advocate for a thoughtful, transparent process for deploying PPPs to address pressing regional transportation needs.
Illinois’ Rainwater Harvesting for Non-Potable Uses Bill would have allowed residents to capture rain – the only truly free water – and store it in a cistern for non-potable uses such as watering lawns or flushing toilets, offsetting consumption of treated drinking water. MPC and its partners have made considerable progress bringing key stakeholders and advocates to the table, but the debate continues over how to ensure the safe storage and use of untreated rain. MPC and Openlands will continue to work on this issue in the fall veto session.
Illinois pedestrians will be safer crossing the street now that the Pedestrian Safety Bill requiring vehicles to stop at crosswalks, instead of simply yielding, has become a law. Building on a recent statement by U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, calling for the inclusion of pedestrians and bicyclists in all transportation projects, the legislation highlights the need for more flexibility in federal transportation funds to help build complete streets with access for all users. As a member of Transportation for America, MPC advocates incorporating this and other national transportation goals into the next federal surface transportation funding bill, which Congress is expected to take up in 2011.
Finally, Illinois’ employer-assisted housing (EAH) programs won a huge victory with the renewal of Illinois’ Affordable Housing Tax Credit. The $2 million set-aside within the $13 million broader tax credits, extended through 2016, leverages some $4 million in private investments from local employers with EAH programs. Renewing the tax credit solidifies commitments from the state and private sector to help Chicagoland’s workforce live closer to their jobs and reduce their commutes.
Kudos to all of our partners, including the lawmakers who championed these bills!