IDOT Shutdown Could Cost Thousands of Jobs and Millions of DollarsJune 20, 2017 - LECET
A protracted shutdown of planned road and bridge projects could shrink the Illinois economy by nearly $2 billion on net, eliminate 23,000 jobs, and cost taxpayers up to $270 million over the next year.
A new study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, which utilizes economic modeling software, comes just days after the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced plans to suspend all construction projects on June 30th.
While the majority of the jobs affected by the suspension of $2.2 billion in planned infrastructure projects in FY 2018 are related to the construction industry and pay middle-class wages, the impact will be felt across all other economic sectors due to reductions in consumer spending. Moreover, by increasing reliance on unemployment insurance and reducing income tax collections from workers, the report notes that a shutdown would only deepen the state’s budget problems.
“In addition to the obvious inconvenience and safety risks that remaining work zones pose for travelers and commuters, a shutdown will depress economic activity and increase financial burdens to taxpayers across the state,” said study co-author Mary Craighead.
Last year, the state avoided an IDOT shutdown by enacting a full-year funding measure.
In light of the ongoing state budget stalemate, the report highlights the fact that suspending IDOT projects on June 30th will provide no immediate budget relief, since the projects are already funded by federal aid, state fuel taxes and user fees, and local sources. This funding is restricted to transportation and is protected by a Constitutional Amendment passed by 79% of Illinois voters in November of 2016.
“Illinois voters have spoken clearly about the importance of making improvements to our vital infrastructure above partisan politics,” Craighead added. “As they did last year, state leaders must act to prevent the most devastating effects of a shutdown by simply enacting an appropriations bill that releases funding that is already available.”