SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Five years and one governor later, Republicans who once fiercely guarded against raids on the state road fund now want to use it to patch holes in the state budget.
Under one provision of a still-developing package to fix the current state budget, lawmakers would give Gov. Bruce Rauner the power to use as much as $250 million of the road fund for general state purposes.
Five years ago, when Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn asked for similar powers during tight budget times, Republican leaders protested the move, saying they believed road funds should be used to patch holes on roads and bridges, not to patch holes in the state’s operating budget,” wrote Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno in a letter co-signed by her then-GOP counterpart in the House.
On Wednesday, Radogno said times have changed, suggesting that a Republican victory in the governor’s race last November is playing a big factor.
Diverting money from the road fund has been a thorny issue in the statehouse because the money is supposed to help fix roads and bridges.
Downstate lawmakers have historically been opposed to such a move because the majority of the money goes to roadwork south of Interstate 80.
Cities, towns, and villages rely on the money to fix potholes and roads.
Amid GOP opposition in 2010, Quinn shelved his diversion proposal saying there were complications because federal money was mixed in the fund.
On Wednesday, state Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said he’d be on board if the fiscal year 2015 budget fix contains a road fund diversion.