Stadelman: Budget and infrastructure plan contain big wins for Rockford

Casino approval, passenger rail and airport funding prevail in final day of spring legislative session

For the second year in a row, the Illinois Senate has voted to approve a bipartisan budget -- and this time there’s funding for passenger rail service to Rockford, a casino for Rockford and funds for the Rockford airport included. State Senator Steve Stadelman, after voting Sunday to approve the balanced budget, expressed excitement over the developments and infrastructure Rockford is slated to receive.

“I think this budget is another step in the right direction of creating a fiscally stable Illinois,” Stadelman said. “Additionally, the jobs and revenue created by a casino will not only help keep that budget stable, but will see some much needed growth come to Rockford.”

Stadelman fought for a larger expansion of gaming that included casinos in Chicago and five border communities over a more basic plan to only would have made sports betting legal in Illinois.

"This is really an effort to stop people from crossing state lines and spending their entertainment dollars here," he said.

In the final hours of an extended spring legislative session Sunday, the Senate also approved a comprehensive infrastructure package that will see $45 billion dollars invested into local communities for projects such as roads, bridges and community development.

“I don’t think there is one person who would say we don’t need to make huge investments in fixing our roads,” Stadelman said. “This package will help us modernize and rebuild our state.” 

Included in the infrastructure package is s $275 million for passenger rail service to Rockford, a longstanding priority of Senator Stadelman.

“Getting fast, reliable rail service to Rockford can only serve as a benefit to the local economy,” said Stadelman, who worked to obtain funding to restore passenger rail between Rockford and Chicago under Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014. When Bruce Rauner succeeded Quinn as governor in 2015, however, he blocked the funding. 
Amtrak wants to conduct a new market study, Stadelman said, and open questions include which existing freight route or routes would be upgraded and whether passenger service would extend from Rockford to Dubuque, Iowa.  

"Passenger rail for Rockford is back on track," he said. "At this juncture, it's a work in progress. What the project looks like will be up to local and state leaders and other stakeholders."

   The budget also funds a previous commitment to the Rockford airport for a new aircraft maintenance facility. The airport had to borrow $90,000 a month to pay back private loans after former Gov. Rauner failed to release the state's contribution to the project. 

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Springfield Office:
Senator 34th District
121A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8022
District Office:
200 S. Wyman St.
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 987-7557
(815) 987-7529 FAX