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Proposed Budget Cuts Could Derail Public Transportation Progress

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Cuts the governor is proposing for next year's budget are a concern for transportation officials.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's plan includes $20 million worth of cuts to Amtrak. Laura Calderon, the director of the Illinois Public Transportation Association, says that means about six million trips will be eliminated downstate.

"This impact is not just on transit. It has a much broader impact on the economy, on the schools, on the universities," she said. "It really does hit everyone."

Calderon says that less trips will mean more people will drive to work or school, which can cause road congestion and lead to the state paying more for road repairs.

A representative for the High Speed Rail Association, Dan Johnson, blames the lack of funding on the rollback of the temporary income tax hike at the end of 2014. He says the state needs the additional revenue from higher taxes.

"While it wasn't so clear six months ago that in fact we are going to lose buses, we are going to lose trains, we are going to lose people's opportunity to get to work," he said. "That's going to reduce--that's going to slow down our economy."

Rauner's proposed budget would cut Amtrak funding nearly in half.

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.
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