State Representative Mike Marron is one of many Republicans critical of Governor J-B Pritzker’s ambitious budget proposals to add new state spending for education, childcare, and anti-poverty efforts.
But the Vermilion County lawmaker is still working to make sure state funding for infrastructure projects reaches his 104th House district.
Marron announced three bills for three different projects at a Statehouse news conference last week, to help the communities of Danville in Vermilion County, and Savoy and Rantoul in Champaign County.
Water pipes, a rail viaduct and a demolition project
In Danville, Marron filed House Bill 2200, to help the city obtain $10 million in state funding to extend water and sewer lines to the Batestown along U.S. Route 150 just west of the city.
“If we’re able to do that,” said Marron, “we’re able to attract more industry, more employers, higher paying jobs, and it just creates opportunity for people.”
Another proposal (HB2199) would provide $10 million to help pay for a railroad viaduct over Curtis Road — and a one-mile “complete streets” renovation of the road — in the Champaign suburb of Savoy. The road gained importance when it was linked to I-57 in 2010. Windsor Road on the northern border of Savoy is its only east-west road with a viaduct, allowing it to pass unobstructed beneath Canadian National railroad tracks that run through the town. Marron says train traffic blocking traffic on Curtis Road a mile south of Windsor effectively splits Savoy in two, slowing the response time for first responders trying to get from one side of the town to the other.
“The rail line could be a potential major impediment to first responders during an emergency and would add valuable time to any call for help on the east side of the track,” said Marron.
Savoy village president John Brown also spoke at the news conference, saying that in addition to helping ambulance and fire truck traffic, the viaduct would strengthen his town’s access to the University of Illinois, its Research Park and the recently built First Street Multi-Use Path – both on the east side of the tracks.
“This project is the key to Savoy’s future growth or prosperity”, said Brown.
In filing House Bill 2201, Marron would like $2.5 million in state funds to demolish vacant buildings at the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul. They were last used by Lincoln’s Challenge Academy, which moved to new buildings built nearby in 2018. But Rantoul village administrator Scott Eisenhauer said while available funding paid for construction the new Lincoln’s Challenge buildings, there was no money to demolish the old ones.
“We are asking the state of Illinois to honor its original scope of work in demolishing these five properties abandoned by the Illinois Department of Military Affairs,” said Eisenhauer at the news conference, “and to appropriate no less than $2.5 million to go towards the completion of the full scope of project.”
Marron seeks bipartisanship
Republicans have criticized Gov. Pritzker’s new spending proposals, including Rep. Marron, who says they rest on the assumption that inflation-fueled increases in tax revenues will continue in the future. But Marron says he hopes both parties can work together on making sure state spending benefits all of Illinois.
“I think my concerns are that we make sure that we safeguard the future. That’s one priority,” said Marron. “And the other thing is, I want to make sure that funding on projects like infrastructure are equitably distributed throughout the state.”
Also joining Marron at the news conference was his state Senate counterpart, Democrat Paul Faraci of Champaign, who said the three projects would help one of the few Illinois counties with a growing population.
“I’m committed to working with all of our stakeholders and my colleagues in the Senate to ensure these projects are funded and budgeted,” Faraci said.
Marron’s three funding proposals have been sent to the House Rules Committee. They all seek money from the state’s General Revenue Fund. But Marron told reporters at the news conference that he could potentially support funding them out of a new state Capitol Bill, similar to the one passed by legislators two years ago.
“I’m ready to come to the table and figure out how to get it done,” said Marron.