Springfield, IL… State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) has advanced two bills to fine-tune the legislation governing the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and consequently save the state money.
“Given the State’s fiscal condition we should be taking a hard look at anywhere that we can save money, reduce redundancies, and operate more efficiently, no matter how small,” Rep. McDermed said. “Legislation like House Bill 5206 is a no brainer. Why should we tie our agency’s hands when it comes to making financially sound deals?”
HB 5206 allows IDOT to lease locomotives, passenger railcars, and other rolling stock equipment or accessions to any state or state agency, public or private entity, or quasi-public entity. Under current law, IDOT is limited to selling such assets to neighboring states only.
IDOT has several high speed rail locomotives purchased in 2009 through the American Recovery and Investment Act that are not currently in operation. IDOT has a tentative arrangement to lease these railcars to another state on the East Coast, but the agency lacks the authority to do so. The cost to store each unused locomotive is $400 dollars a day. IDOT’s proposed lease would earn approximately $1300 a day; $2.38 million dollars in potential annual revenue for the department to use for infrastructure investments.
“Legislation pertaining to how state agencies and state government operations are filled with outdated practices and inefficiencies,” Rep. McDermed continued. “We owe it to the taxpayers and recipients of state services to identify where we can make positive, good government improvements.”
House Bill 4960 is an omnibus bill that codifies existing IDOT practices, eliminates outdated statutory requirements, and moves IDOT towards compliance with federal regulations. Such changes include eliminating the annual 10% appropriations increase for downstate transit, instead of linking the annual increase to the rate of increase of revenue being raised by the existing formula. The passage of this bill will allow IDOT to operate more efficiently, save tax dollars, and allow the department to provide better service for Illinois residents.
HB 5206 unanimously passed out of the House Transportation Committee and HB 4960 is awaiting a vote in the Executive Committee.