Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
Jun
2011
11

Illinois Queitly Privatizing Roads and Water



This is a cross-post by Michael Barnes of The Examiner

What Chicago’s ex-mayor Daley did to the Skyway and parking meters in Chicago is coming to all surface transportation in Illinois, and quite possibly to its water supply as well.

On May 28th, the Illinois House and Senate approved the public-private transportation bill, HB1091, introduced by Illinois Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), and co-sponsored by Rep Jim Sacia. (R-Galena).

The legislation allows privatization of the Illinois transportation system, and subverts existing prevailing wage legislation.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Toll Highway Authority are granted the necessary powers for the development, financing, and operation of transportation projects through public-private agreements with one or more private entities.

The bill, as amended by the House, “Provides that the Authority shall not use any revenue generated by any toll highway, or portions thereof, under the Authority’s jurisdiction which were open to vehicular traffic on the effective date of the Act to enter into or provide funding for a public-private agreement. Provides that the Authority shall not use any asset, or the proceeds from the sale or lease of any such asset, which was owned by the Authority on the effective date of the Act to enter into or provide funding for a public-private agreement.”

The IL Senate amended the bill to exclude an airport authority from the definition of transportation agency. Former Chicago Mayor Rich Daley created a regional, bi-state airport authority in 1995 that included O’Hare, Midway, and the Gary-Chicago International Airport. The Senate also further amended the legislation to allow the Toll Highway Authority to operate or provide operational services such as toll collection on highways which are developed or financed, or both, through a public-private agreement entered into by another public entity. This amendment will allow expansion of the tollway authority along with whoever is its private partner to levy toll collection on roads not yet built that will not be part of the tollway system.

It is notable that the public-private partnership that already exists is $7 billion in debt (…more on said debt HERE).

Railroads, although part of the transportation system, are largely under private ownership. It is doubtful that the public-private model will result in the sharing of private assets with public entities.

What is not said, but is allowed under the legislation is the privatization of water supplies. Lake Michigan and all Illinois waterways are not specifically excluded as transportation systems in the bill, like the airports were. Veolia (http://www.veoliawater.com/) previously lobbied to privatize Chicago’s Jardine water filtration plant.

Veolia contributed to Nekritz’s re-election.

This legislation will amount to a putative tax on the middle class and the poor, while allowing the wealthy to profit from providing government services at increased rates. It will also allow for the creation of paramilitary, non-sworn ‘police’ officers at a substandard wage. Non-sworn security personnel are not empowered to engage in law enforcement; they may not issue traffic tickets or summonses to court.

The legislation is currently with Governor Quinn.

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