Villegas only alderman on J.B. Pritzker’s infrastructure group
by BRIAN NADIG
Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th) is the only Chicago alderman on governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s 45-member "Restoring Illinois Infrastructure" transition committee, and he plans to promote the area’s needs.
"This is an opportunity to see significant infrastructure improvement on the Northwest Side," Villegas said, who is completing his first term as alderman and is running for re-election with no opposition on the ballot in the Feb. 26 municipal election.
The infrastructure committee’s priorities will include examining public transit needs and looking at the availability of broadband Internet throughout the state.
The state’s infrastructure needs are enormous given that the last major capital improvement bill was approved in 2009, and before that in 1999, Villegas said. The longer infrastructure needs are ignored, the higher the costs in the long run, he said.
There are recent reports that a capital bill may get approved during the final days of Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration.
However, Pritzker has said that it is not necessary for a capital bill to come out of the lame duck session in early January and that his administration will focus on the passage of a comprehensive capital bill as soon as he takes office.
In addition, Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently called for an increase in the motor fuel tax to help guarantee a steady revenue stream for infrastructure improvements.
Pritzker has appointed 10 transition committees on a variety of issues, including education and health. "They’ll be challenging the experts to find a solution (on each issue)," Villegas said.
The infrastructure committee may continue to meet after Pritzker’s inauguration next month but on an ad hoc basis, Villegas said. The infrastructure committee will be seeking input from a variety of sources, including those in the construction industry, he said.