PEORIA — Three Peoria-area lawmakers were among those who negotiated the details of the $45 billion capital construction program passed last weekend.
Gov. JB Pritzker called out state Reps. Jehan Gordon-Booth, Ryan Spain and Tim Butler among the dozen members of both chambers who crafted the package that will spend money on roads, rail, buildings and other projects.
Gordon-Booth, a Peoria Democrat, said that one of her major efforts was to have an "equity-centered conversation" in working on the bill.
"All of us (in the Peoria legislative delegation) are going to push for Peoria to get the things they need," she said. "But what we have to do is ensure that not only are we doing it, but we're doing it in a way where we're intentional about creating opportunities for all of Peoria."
Gordon-Booth said she felt confident that there would be greater diversity in the workforce for many of those projects, an issue where access is important across the community because "there's a very real, serious economic multiplier that comes forward when you do a capital bill."
Spain, a Peoria Republican, said Illinois in recent years had been "woefully inadequate" in its attention to infrastructure — so much so that it was beginning to put some federal Department of Transportation funds at risk.
He said that he supported landing "at the lower end of the range" on a gas tax increase for which debate landed between 10 cents and 30 cents. Ultimately lawmakers agreed to 19 cents.
And with a business community willing to discuss spending on infrastructure, and finding the dollars to pay for it — including state Chamber of Commerce support for hiking the gas tax — Spain said it was particularly important "to send a message to the business community that economic growth is extremely important."
Results there, he noted, include helping brick-and-mortar businesses by requiring more sales tax payment from online businesses that have been competing for their customers, as well as addressing issues like eliminating the franchise tax and providing tax incentives for data centers to locate here. The online sales tax changes are part of what's expected to pay for some of the construction spending.
Spain cited, as well, downstate businesses like Marquis Energy — which has an ethanol facility in Hennepin, just outside of Spain's district — that had wanted to expand elsewhere but had concerns about the state's business climate as among businesses that needed signs of reforms.
Gordon-Booth and Spain also both said they expect details to come out in the next few weeks about what local lawmakers are putting some of their set-aside capital construction funds toward, as well as on which road projects locally will be put into the pipeline — or accelerated in planning — because of the bill.