Simon Review Paper #14


The present paper was written as an analysis of the proposed capital budget plan which is being considered by the State of Illinois and which has been a major item on the political agenda in the state for well approximately two years. In the spring of 2008, Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard asked Dr. Subhash C. Sharma of the Department of Economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to do an analysis of the proposed capital improvements plan which was being advocated by then Governor Rod Blagojevich and being considered by the Illinois General Assembly. The plan would make a major investment in infrastructure improvements in the state, and it would have been the first major capital plan to pass the General Assembly in almost a decade. It follows in the tradition of two other major capital improvements bills advocated by earlier Governors and passed by the Illinois General Assembly. In 1985 under the leadership of Governor James R. Thompson, the state passed the Build Illinois Plan, which claimed at the time to be the largest public works project in the state’s history. It was funded at $2.3 billion total. In 1999 at the beginning of his administration, Governor George Ryan initiated and the General Assembly passed a new capital budget called the Illinois FIRST plan for the infrastructure improvements and capital needs. Illinois FIRST was funded at $12 billion total. The current Illinois Works plan would follow in the footsteps of those two prior major investments made in infrastructure by the people of Illinois if it were to be approved. The plan is still being considered by the Illinois General Assembly, and this proposal or something like it will be one of the major items for consideration by the new Governor Pat Quinn and his administration.