Duckworth finds way to avoid being ‘locked in’ at CTA stations

In related news, help in restoring at least part of the deduction for state and local taxes may be on the way in a companion bill.

In an interview today, Duckworth said Illinois and its municipalities will get at least $9.8 billion for highway projects and $1.4 billion for bridge repair and replacement under the infrastructure bill. That money will be distributed by formula over the next five years, so it’s pretty much guaranteed. About half the $1 trillion is “new” money, or spending above prior baseline levels.

Additionally, according to a White House fact sheet, the state will be able to compete for $28 billion in money for roads and bridges that will be distributed on a competitive basis.

Beyond that, the CTA, Metra and other transit operators will get $4 billion in formula funds, mostly for capital work, and be able to compete for other sources.

A total of $149 million is being allotted to the state to build electric vehicle charging stations and $100 million to expand broadband into underserved rural areas.

What Duckworth was particularly proud of is $15 billion being allotted nationally for lead-pipe replacement, with additional funds potentially available under related programs.

That money won’t all go to Chicago and by itself won’t cover the $8 billion to $10 billion that officials have estimated is needed for work just in the city proper, she conceded,

But $15 billion “is significant,” Duckworth said given that roughly 23 percent of the lead water pipes nationally are in the Chicago area. The senator originally wanted $45 billion and said she expects to get closer to that in a companion bill that Washington Democrats plan to pass next week under budget reconciliation rules that require only a simple majority

“This is a good start,” perhaps providing 30 percent of what the city needs, Duckworth said. “More is needed.”

Duckworth also won on another issue of personal interest to her: earmarking $1.75 billion to install elevators and related work to make public transit stations fully accessible to those in wheelchairs.

A double leg amputee from her service during the Iraq war, Duckworth said she no longer will ride the el because, every time she does, “I get locked in,” with the departure station either lacking an elevator or with the elevator broken.

CTA does have program to change that, but the work will take 20 years because of lack of funds, she said. So working with them, the new program was developed. “CTA should be very proud.”

Duckworth also had one other bit of news: That reconciliation package is likely to include another priority of hers: at least partially restoring the full federal deduction on state and local taxes, generally known as SALT, that was capped in the Trump tax changes of three years ago.

The deduction now is limited to $10,000 a year, not enough for hundreds of thousands of Chicago-area residents to get the entire break.

“This is one of my priorities,” Duckworth said. “The current law has been incredibly bad for our families.”

Sounds like she means it.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

August 5, 2021 at 03:59PM

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