On November 4th, nearly 80% of Illinois voters cast their ballots in favor of the "Safe Roads Amendment", which will take effect when the State Board of Elections certifies the results in December. Before the election, the APA-IL Legislative Committee urged membership to vote NO on the amendment.
While the amendment has good intentions, the Committee feels the mechanism of a strict constitutional lockbox imposes unnecessary restraints on our state budget at a time of fiscal instability. Moody's Investor Services agrees, writing in the wake of the election that the amendment is "credit negative because it cuts off the state’s ability to draw on about $3 billion of annual transportation revenue that could otherwise help address fiscal pressure from pension contribution demands and reduced income taxes." The effects of the amendment on non-transportation areas of concern to membership--from education to environmental protection to pension funding--remain to be seen. Under this new transportation funding context, there are still opportunities to make great strides in Illinois' transportation planning. The APA-IL encourages YOU to safeguard these funds. Remember, certain enumerated types of non-automobile transportation were identified to receive these funds (i.e. mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, and airports) but the amendment also mentioned a vague "other transportation" category and failed to specifically enumerate bicycles and pedestrians. Nothing is preventing IDOT from redirecting or increasing its funding for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit projects. We hope that new transportation revenues may even find greater public support in the future, since voters can be assured that increases in transportation funding will not be diverted from their intended purpose. It is up to our membership to continue to push our cities, counties, and state towards better access and mobility for all Illinoisans. The APA-IL Legislative Committee will continue to monitor these amendment and its outcome in the future. Please contact APA-IL Legislative Committee member Ben LeRoy with any questions.