SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A measure backed by state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, to ensure that local public transit agencies receive promised state funding will take effect on July 1.
“During the governor’s budget crisis, funding that was owed to downstate transit districts like MetroLINK was raided to pay for projects in Chicago, with no timeline of when it would be repaid,” said Halpin. “This led to higher fares, fewer available routes and reduced access to reliable and affordable transportation in downstate communities. We have to prioritize public funding for all communities in our state, and I’m glad to see that our local public transportation network will receive the dollars it is owed.”
Local transit agencies faced funding uncertainty during the state’s nearly three-year budget impasse. In response, Halpin passed House Bill 2453, which prohibits Springfield politicians from playing games with funding set aside by law for public transit in downstate communities. Under Halpin’s law, these funds must be deposited directly into a dedicated fund. More than 50 urban and rural transit agencies, including Rock Island’s MetroLINK, receive operating assistance through the Downstate Transportation Fund, for which funding is generated automatically through the state sales tax. Halpin’s measure allows transit agencies to be directly paid money that has been set aside for them, instead of having to wait for existing bureaucratic procedures that have prevented agencies from receiving what is rightfully owed in a timely manner.
“Public transportation systems across Illinois provide crucial access to employment, school, health care and recreational activities,” said Halpin. “For the thousands of Quad-City residents who utilize public transit, this new law provides assurance that they can count on their ride to work or school being there for them, regardless of the state’s fiscal situation.”