(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced two infrastructure projects totaling nearly $40 million for downstate Illinois as a part of tax increases for the “Rebuild Illinois” plan. Some question the timing with an election three months away.
The Rebuild Illinois plan passed with bipartisan support in 2019 and increased taxes and fees, including doubling the state’s gas tax. Around $45 billion worth of taxpayer investments in roads, bridges, railroads, universities, early childhood centers and state facilities are expected over the next six years.
The projects Pritzker announced this week include a $21 million investment in Cahokia Heights to improve wastewater management and another $17.5 million to help improve the Rend Lake Resort.
“Today, I am proud to announce more than $21 million in state funding that will bring 21st-century wastewater infrastructure to the Cahokia Heights community,” Pritzker announced. “This new investment will upgrade the existing wastewater collection system and prevent the sewage flooding that has become notorious for area residents.”
The $17.5 million for the Rend Lake Resort will improve the conference center, restaurant, cabins, pool, and boatel.
“I will never give up on Rend Lake. Rend Lake has been around for 50 years. For that half a century, it has been a shining example of the rich history, the human ingenuity, and the values of sustainability that make Illinois special,” Pritzker said at a separate news conference.
State Rep. Charles Meier, R-Highland, said southern Illinois towns have heard these promises before but have not seen any follow-through from the state.
“We have had projects before when we get close to election time that has been promised,” Meier told The Center Square. “However, this money never really seems to roll in. He can promise all he wants, but show up with a check in hand if you want to help southern Illinois.”
Meier also said he has reached out to the state in the past, seeking help for other issues but has not received assistance.
“We cannot seem to get any other money down here,” Meier said. “I have businesses that are looking to expand. Another one wants to bring their international headquarters here. Then we start getting changes from the state after plans have been approved already.”
The gubernatorial election where Pritzker is seeking a second term will be held in three months. He faces state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia.
Meier questions the timing of Pritzker’s announcements with Nov. 8 just around the corner.
“We see more of Pritzker here in the south during election time than during any other time,” Meier said. “Promises are put out there, and it is like here we go, then nothing happens.”