Editorial: Time to release Amtrak funding in Illinois

May 12, 2016

An editorial opinion from The Dispatch & The Rock Island Argus

More than a year ago, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced that he was freezing the state’s portion of money to finance the Amtrak passenger rail construction project between Quad-Cities and Chicago as part of a wider review of state spending projects.Website Insert New Passenger Train Service copy

In January 2010, then Gov. Pat Quinn endorsed the $222 million plan to restart the service for the first time since 1978. Construction, originally targeted for 2012 completion, later was expected to be complete by 2016. Gov. Rauner’s “review” has since become tangled in the bigger political battle over a budget for the fiscal year which will end June 30.

During his campaign, Mr. Rauner was supportive of local federal/state projects like the new I-74 bridge and the Amtrak connection to Chicago. Since his election, the governor has said he wanted to cut state funding for Amtrak service by 40 percent. This would have meant cuts to existing service around the state including the route from Quincy through Galesburg, Kewanee and Princeton to Chicago.

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