It’s a Lobby-palooza! Join MPC’s 43 Minutes for $43 Billion Infrastructure Push

Brown Line crossing the river
MPC says Investing $43 billion over the next years could help get the CTA system, and other Illinois infrastructure, in good working order. Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

Are you ready for (almost three-quarters of) an hour of power?

That’s what the Metropolitan Planning Council has planned for Wednesday, May 18, at 11 a.m., when they’ll hold the 43 Minutes for $43 Billion transportation infrastructure lobbying jam session. They’re asking Chicagoland residents to call their legislators and contact leaders in Springfield to ask them to commit to investing $43 billion over the next ten years to fund repairs and improvements to transit, bridges, and roads. They’re also asking citizens to tweet about the fact that we’re sick and tired of the shoddy state of Illinois’ transportation network.

The action is timed to coincide with Infrastructure Week, which Washington, D.C. infrastructure advocates have organized over the last few years, as well as the May 31 adjournment date for the Illinois state legislature. According to MPC executive vice president Peter Skosey, there appears to be plenty of interest on both sides of the aisle for a new transportation funding bill, but the general consensus is that the initiative won’t move forward until the state budget, which has been mired in partisan deadlock, moves forward.

“It’s problematic that we don’t already have a transportation bill,” Skosey said. “In [MPC’s] opinion, it needs to be done immediately, but it also needs to be done adequately.” He noted that if, say, lawmakers agreed to budget $1 billion a year for infrastructure, many Illinoisans would think that’s a big expenditure. “But that wouldn’t be sufficient,” he said. “A billion a year would only make us fall behind farther. It has to be $4.3 billion to get us up to par.”

While MPC hopes a bill can be passed before legislators adjourn at the end of the month, Skosey said there are other windows of opportunity for getting it approved. It could also happen during the November vetoe session (when the governor signs or vetoes legislation the general assembly has passed), or else it could take place during the lame duck session following the November elections, when Illinoisans will vote on every House seat and some Senate seats.

However, it would be much more difficult to pass a bill after May 31 because a two-thirds majority of the assembly would be needed. After January 1, only a simple majority of 51 percent would be required.

At any rate, it makes sense to get the word out to leaders sooner than later that we’re fed up with slow, unreliable train and bus service, potholed roads, and increasingly unsafe bridges. Skosey said MPC came up with the idea for 43 Minutes for $43 Billion as an alternative to organizing a lobbying day in which representatives from the 43 local companies and nonprofits who’ve endorsed the Accelerate Illinois infrastructure funding campaign would have to schlep down to Springfield. “We figured that calls, emails, and social media would be a fast, effective way to send a message,” Skosey said. Here’s how you can get involved.

Call your legislators

Look up your state representative and state senator on this web page. MPC suggest you use the following script:

Good morning! [Every day I have to dodge potholes] OR [My train/bus is late way too often] OR [Fill in your own transportation frustration here]. I’d like to remind the senator/representative that our state needs to invest an additional $43 billion in transportation over the next 10 years, and we have to start now, or the problem is only going to keep getting worse. No one wants to live or do business in a place with deteriorating infrastructure. I’m calling to support investment in transportation and to make sure it isn’t forgotten during the budget process. Thank you!

Call the governor

In addition to calling your representatives, MPC also recommends contacting Governor Rauner and the top four House and Senate leaders:

Governor Rauner’s Office
217-782-0244
Speaker Madigan’s Office
217-782-5350
Senate President Cullerton’s Office
217-782-2728
House Minority Leader Durkin’s Office
217-782-0494
Senate Minority Leader Radogno’s Office
217-782-9407

Tweet

MPC suggests tweeting your displeasure with the subpar state of Illinois’ transportation network using Infrastructure Week’s #InfrastructureMatters hashtag as well as the #twill hashtag. Tag local legislators using this list of their twitter handles from AARP.

While MPC doesn’t have have a target for the number of contact they’re hoping will be made during the 43-minute lobbying (and I’m sure they won’t mind if you’re still tweeting, calling and emailing after 11:43 p.m. tomorrow), Skosey said he has high hopes that the effort will make a difference. “This is an experiment,” he said.

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  • J. Geoff Rove

    Having a project (Elgin Ohare Expy) from previous tax funded capital programs “donated” to and Tolled by the ISTHA does not excite me to support anymore state tax increases. Until a detailed plan with numbers for the Chicago area is
    published, I don’t see the reason to increase licenses or gas taxes.

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