Illinois Construction Program Back on Track

July 11, 2011

Our state has gotten the green light to go ahead with a $31 billion public works program that will be funded in part by the legalization of video gambling.

An Illinois appellate court had thrown out the deal earlier this year, saying there were too many issues on one bill. The Illinois Supreme Court disagreed and voted 7-0 in favor of the plan on Monday.

The deal at hand is a 2009 public works program coined “Illinois Jobs Now!” that promises to create or retain 439,000 construction jobs throughout the state over a six-year period.

The projects would include improvements to state bridges and roads, transportation networks, schools and communities. The law will create new “green” weatherization jobs and fund such things as affordable housing, health care facilities, museums and public libraries.

To see all the projects in Cook County and Chicago, click here. To see all the projects across the state of Illinois, click here.

couple looking happy while playing video poker.Via the new law, these projects would be paid for by:

*Increasing license plate fees

*Increasing taxes on alcohol

*Increasing sales tax on candy, soft drinks and beauty products

*Adding video gambling in bars, restaurants and truck stops across Illinois.

Chicago Blackhawks owner and liquor distributor Rocky Wirtz is the one who challenged the law in court in the first place, obviously not thrilled with an increase in the alcohol tax.

Wirtz contended that the bill violated the Illinois Constitution’s “single-subject” rule, and a state appellate court agreed. The Illinois Supreme Court, however, felt that everything in the bill was geared toward paying for the public works program.

“All of the provisions have a natural and logical connection to the single subject of capital projects,” Justice Anne Burke wrote in the court’s opinion.

If the state Supreme Court had agreed with Wirtz, hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents could be without jobs.

“What this means is our job recovery programs can go forward, full-speed ahead,” said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

As for video gambling; that’s now in the hands of the Illinois Gaming Board, which has struggled for years to approve its legalization considering there are groups and communities all over the state opposed to it.

‘Bet’ there will be more updates on this story soon. Stay tuned to Chicago Real Estate Forum for more details.


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