Guest Commentary | Bipartisan infrastructure plan needed now

Guest Commentary | Bipartisan infrastructure plan needed now

By State Reps. JOHN CABELLO, R-Machesney Park, and DAVID McSWEENEY, R-Barrington Hills

One thing that Republicans and Democrats should agree on is that we need to invest in Illinois' infrastructure.

Here in Illinois, transportation is a vital part of our economy with 2,181 miles of interstate highways throughout the state. Only California and Texas have more miles of interstate highways. With the state's central location, our highways are well traveled every single day.

The Transportation for Illinois Coalition estimates 40 percent of roads and 20 percent of bridges will be in an unacceptable condition by 2020 unless something significant is done in the near future.

A big part of our economy is our distribution centers. Kenco, a logistics and supply blog, rates Chicago as the fourth-best city in the nation for a distribution center. The need to improve our infrastructure is great, but the financial reality is Illinois does not have the money to accomplish this on its own.

We will need help from the federal government, and we deserve it because we send a lot more money to Washington, D.C., than we get back.

The president's infrastructure plan provides the opportunity we have needed here in Illinois for a long time. The $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, "Building America's Infrastructure," pulls together federal, state, local and private funds to give our roads, bridges, rail and other infrastructure the upgrades that are long overdue.

The president's plan gives state and local governments the ability to make the decisions locally on which projects to fund.

This is not a top-down approach that strong-arms local governments into doing what the federal government wants in order to get the money. State and local governments will have the ability to prioritize projects.

The plan also eases the federal permitting process. Virtually every infrastructure project requires some sort of federal permit. The president's plan is to ease the permitting process, thus making it easier for state and local governments to expedite projects.

We would like to see a greater investment from the federal government in infrastructure and are hopeful that Congress will allocate more than $200 billion of federal funds for infrastructure over the next 10 years.

In Illinois, we need to enact a capital bill. We don't support an increase in the gas tax. Instead, we believe that the recently enacted Safe Roads constitutional amendment will provide more funds for infrastructure projects because Illinois politicians will no longer be able to raid road funds and use those funds for other spending.

Gov. Bruce Rauner should be quarterbacking our efforts. However, sadly for political reasons, Gov. Rauner has refused to meet with President Trump and has shown no leadership on Illinois infrastructure.

Unlike Gov. Rauner, we have both treated the president with respect. The time is now to set aside partisan differences and enact a federal and Illinois infrastructure plan.

State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, represents the 68th District in the Illinois General Assembly. State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, represents the 52nd District in the General Assembly.