Illinois state Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) on the House floor | repugaste.com
Newly elected Illinois state Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) wasn't surprised by the news recently reported by the Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) that the state’s new $45 billion capital spending plan is riddled with 'pork-barrel projects.'
“The bigger problem is we have these huge cost-drivers in our state that are causing us to be one of the highest-taxed states in the nation, and now in order to do capital projects, some of which we truly need, it’s just too much,” Ugaste told the McHenry Times. “At the end of the day, that’s what’s going to really affect people. We need to address the problems, not just tell people they have to pay more taxes.”
In all, IPI pegs the pork project price-tag at around $1.25 billion, including upwards of $50 million each for a noise-abatement project at the Chicago Belt Railway Yard in House Speaker Mike Madigan’s (D-Chicago) home district and capital plan funding for the Illinois Arts Council, which is chaired by Madigan’s wife Shirley. Lawmakers in Springfield are also poised to cash in, with each of them slated to receive an average of about $3.4 million for projects in their districts, with the vast majority of the funding earmarked for Democratic-led districts.
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago)
Much of the spending is coming at the expense of taxpayers, who saw the state’s gas tax double to 38 cents per gallon and certain vehicle registration fees jump from $98 to $148 as part of the new state budget, which also includes at least 20 other provisions that pave the way for higher taxes or fees.
Ugaste fails to see the logic behind some, if not all, of the egregious spending.
“The arts are a wonderful thing and I personally support them,” he said. “But I don’t believe that the state of Illinois right now, based on a tax increase to the taxpayer, has $50 million to be giving to any arts program. That seems to be a bit much.”