From casino to airport, south suburbs could benefit big from new bill

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A $45 billion capital bill passed in Springfield will provide infrastructure upgrades throughout Illinois.

Under the plan, Chicago fared well, it usually does, but south suburban lawmakers said the Southland also scored big.

“As southland legislators, we’re very excited about the opportunities that exist in the bill,” State Rep. William Davis of Hazel Crest said.

The legislature authorized six new casinos, including one in Chicago and one in the south suburbs. The location is to be determined. But the lobbying has already begun.

William Davis, who represents economically challenged Harvey, wants it in his district.

“There are several communities that have expressed interest,” he said. “The only communities that I know of that are ready to hit the ground Day 1 are the combination of Homewood, East Hazel Crest.”

Senate Michael Hastings of Frankfort wants the casino farther west.

“The city of Country Club Hills has always had a location on 167th and Cicero that they think a casino should go,” he said. “Tinley Park has reached out to me they have a position where they’d like to see it go. But if you look at Matteson, they got a lot of open land.”

Also, lawmakers approved more money for a south suburban airport. Southland politicians are still dreaming about a facility to handle cargo planes in Peotone.

“There was money in the budget for a new interchange that would feed directly into the airport as another step toward the airport becoming a reality,” Davis said.

The infrastructure investment is not free. Portions of new spending is funded through various taxes and fees.

  • Illinois gas tax doubles.
  • State motor fuel tax will be tied to inflation.
  • Cost of a vehicle registration fee increases.
  • Cost of a pack cigarettes increases.
  • Tax hike on parking garages.

While taxes and spending is in the spotlight, businessman Willie Wilson added his name to list of people opposed to the graduated income tax amendment headed to the November 2020 ballot.

“Taxes run big businesses out of the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois,” Wilson said.

Some lawmakers want to see the state invest in infrastructure on an on-going basis by securing bonds regularly and repaying them over time. This is the first capital bill in 10 years.

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