SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN/KMOX) – Labor and management leaders found a way to be on the same side – in favor of federal highway money staying in the inbound lanes into Illinois.
Doug Whitley of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Michael Carrigan of the Illinois AFL-CIO spoke on behalf of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, urging members of Congress to extend the federal highway program at the current level – not at a 35 percent cut, which is being proposed. The House has granted a six-month extension at the current levels, but this group wants another six-year bill.
With them at a statehouse news conference were representatives of the kinds of businesses which stand to gain, as would businesses which sell to them. Peoria-based engineering consultant Alicia Hermann compares these days to the beginning of the Interstate Highway system’s construction in the mid-1950s: “The decision was made to move our nation to a new level. Now, if we don’t act with the same foresight and the same commitment, we’re going to miss out on some great opportunities,” she said.
John Peisker, vice president of the O’Neil Brothers road construction firm in Urbana, calls out the proposed reduction: “A 35 percent reduction in federal funding is a corresponding reduction for the lumberyards” and other businesses which provide raw materials.
Federal spending can be a hard sell to Republicans these days, but Whitley points out it was Ronald Reagan who increased the federal motor fuel tax.