Is Blagojevich Leaving Transit Money on the Table?

February 21, 2008

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Metra and other Chicago-area transit agencies have billions of federal dollars waiting in the wings.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's budget proposal is barely a day old, but public transit boosters are already taking it to task.

10th District Congressman Mark Kirk says the governor's budget deserves some barbs. Why?

The federal government slated four billion dollars for Chicago-area public transit, but to get all of it, the state must cough up $2.7 billion of its own money. Governor Blagojevich provided less than half that. Congressman Kirk worries someone else will snatch Illinois' share.

KIRK: Other states in the union, don't face the political gridlock that our state faces, and if Illinois fails to put up a federal match it will be to the benefit of Pennsylvania, California, New York, Florida and hurt our local economy.

One federal project at stake is Metra's STAR Line, which would run from Joliet to Arlington Heights, then to O'Hare airport. Governor Blagojevich says if public transit needs more money, Illinois will find it.

I'm Shawn Allee, Chicago Public Radio.