Rep. Halbrook unable to follow Pritzker's math on jobs creation in capital-improvements plan
As much as he would like to see Illinois finally on the road to repairing its fiscal crisis, Republican state Rep. Brad Halbrook (Shelbyville) admits there are things about Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s capital-improvements plan that he still cannot quite comprehend.
“I would like to see where the numbers come from for the jobs creation he is projecting,” Halbrook told the East Central Reporter of the 540,000 jobs Pritzker is predicting will come from raising taxes and borrowing $41.5 billion to build state roads and bridges. With Illinois’ unemployment rate at just 4.42 percent, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, critics wonder how Pritzker could be forecasting a hiring glut almost two times greater than the number of people across the state who are presently out of the labor force.
As for the construction sector in particular, the government reports there are only 230,800 workers in the state’s building industry overall.
“I guess he has his reasons for putting out numbers like that,” Halbrook said. “I’m just not sure what they are.”
In addition to transportation, Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois plan of increased taxes and fees also earmarks funding for education, public health and other infrastructure projects over six years.
“For sure, we are in need of infrastructure upgrades,” Halbrook added. “The last couple of weeks in Springfield have been about seeing how things develop. There are a lot of different ideas floating around and we’re still kind of working through things. We had a good week working together. Time is short and we have a lot of heavy lifting to do, but I can see people are trying to work together.”
Of the $1.8 billion Pritzker has talked about raising in new funding and higher fees, the largest amount comes from raising the state's motor fuels tax from 19 cents to 34 cents per gallon, to the tune of $560 million in added revenues. Other money-generating changes include raising registration fees for both traditional and electric vehicles, and imposing a new tax of $1 per ride on ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.