Illinois Governor Says Bonds are needed for Transportation Projects

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said that he needs legislative approval to be able to issue $2.7 billion of bonds to fund transportation projects. The Democratic governor said the debt would be the last part of the state’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now program that was approved in 2009. Transportation

The program was made to improve employment via capital spending. The governor said that there should be a debate with regards to additional infrastructure investments and bond issuance. He told reporters that they can continue to attract major companies if the state continues to invest in transportation, and construction. IT was during the news conference that Governor Quinn unveiled the six-year, $12.6 billion transportation construction program that is funded by local, state and federal dollars.

Some of the highlights of the program include the $475 million project to rebuild the Circle Interchange in Chicago, $76 million for a new Mississippi River bridge, $56 million worth of upgrades and repairs in east central Illinois, and $83 million in southern Illinois.

Illinois unemployment rate remained at 9.5 percent, which is one of the highest in the nation. Governor Quinn said that the Democrat-controlled Legislature has to pass reforms during the spring session that ends May 31 in order to control the state’s growing public pension costs.

The state has a $96.8 billion unfunded pension liability that is forced the state government to implement cuts in its core services. This also led to several credit downgrades that has given Illinois the lowest bond ratings among all states.

Illinois’ fiscal problems have cost Illinois money when it issues bonds in the $3.7 trillion US municipal market. The state has an unpaid bill backlog of $9 billion. The state’s credit spread over Municipal Market Data’s benchmark triple-A scale is the second widest among major issuers tracked by the MMD. Illinois’ spread for 10 year bonds in the latest week was 141 basis points compared with California’s 61 basis points.