While COVID-19 has disrupted many industries throughout the United States, construction continues to be performed as an essential service. In March, Governor Pritzker and Governor Holcomb took decisive action to protect Illinois and Indiana residents from COVID-19 by issuing shelter-in-place orders requiring residents to stay at home until April 30, 2020. Illinois later extended the order until the end of May. Despite these orders, it’s business as usual for the operating engineers as they were classified as essential workers performing critical work during the shelter-in-place.
In other news, Illinois is getting close to celebrating its historical Rebuild Illinois Capital Bill signed into law last summer on June 28, 2019. The bill was a historic win for Illinoisans by increasing the motor fuel taxes by $0.19 cents per gallon for gasoline and $0.24 cents per gallon for special fuels. These increases have proved to be effective with the state already collecting more motor fuel tax revenue than all of fiscal year 2019 alone. The bill also implemented both vehicle registration and certificate of title fee increases. Most notably, electronic vehicles no longer receive a discounted rate of $35 every two years and electronic vehicle registrations were increased to match all other standard passenger vehicles in addition to a supplemental $100 fee per year in lieu of paying a motor fuel tax.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has stated that it has no plans to suspend or delay infrastructure. Likewise, IDOT has outlined a plan for the use of the increased transportation fees in their annual Multi-Year Program (MYP) in which the fiscal years 2020-2025 include $23.49 billion in planned statewide transportation projects over the next six-year period.
The Rebuild Illinois Capital Bill also legalized sports wagering with one location officially launching on March 9, 2020. The law legalizes sports betting at specific locations including riverboats, casinos, horse tracks, sports facilities, and online. Legalizing sports betting is projected to help support vertical capital improvement projects throughout the state. While the rollout was sidelined by the COVID-19 outbreak resulting in subsequent cancelations of sports events, the state is still hopeful for a successful new industry once sporting events are active again.
Finally, in a March press release, Governor Pritzker and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced that $80 million in Rebuild Illinois funds are now available to invest in public infrastructure and economic developments. Governor Pritzker stated the primary purpose of the bipartisan, historical $45 billion capital plan is to create the foundation for fair and equitable economic growth across the state. By investing in our infrastructure now, Illinois is investing in a strong foundation for a growing economy.