Rauner Won't Say Whether He Favors Amending Illinois' Constitution

Sep 27, 2016

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois voters this fall will have a chance to amend the state constitution. The governor refuses to say whether he supports the change.

Illinois has gotten into the habit of using money that was supposed to be used to fill pot holes and instead using it to fill holes in the budget.

Road contractors and construction workers got sick of it.

They came up with an idea of putting road money in a sort of "lock box."

To do it, they propose amending the constitution so it has to be used on transportation needs, and nothing else.

Legislators overwhelmingly agreed to present the idea to voters, who'll get the final say on Nov. 8.

They'll do so without knowing where Gov. Bruce Rauner stands. Rauner, a Republican, says he has an opinion, but he won't share it.

"There are pros and cons to it," he said Monday. "So you know, at this point it's in front of the voters and I'll let the voters decide."

Rauner says Illinois needs to invest more in infrastructure.

But he also acknowledged the lockbox idea would leave him without budget flexibility. Critics say it's writing a gravy train for contractors and labor unions into the constitution.

A well-funded campaign backed by business and labor groups is calling on voters to choose "yes." They say too much money intended for roads has been swept for other uses, and the amendment will lead to safer roads and bridges.