{{featured_button_text}}
061715-blm-loc-1amtrak

Mason Kriter, 18 months old, and father Sean Kriter of Normal watch a train go by in Normal. Amtrak officials said Tuesday they still haven't received word of state funding cuts threatened by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

SPRINGFIELD — If Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to reduce Amtrak service in Illinois beginning on July 1, he might want to notify Amtrak.

According to a spokesman for the nation's passenger rail company, no one from the governor's office or the state's transportation agency has contacted them about plans Rauner announced Friday to cut state aid for train service.

"We've not had any formal word from Illinois DOT," spokesman Marc Magliari said Tuesday. "We're still accepting bookings for current levels of service."

On Friday, Rauner announced a new series of cuts to state programs as part of an ongoing attempt to pressure Democratic leaders to include some of his pro-business proposals as part of a compromise budget deal.

Democrats have balked at the Republican governor's attempts to alter workers' compensation laws and have voted down his push for a property tax freeze — two of at least five initiatives Rauner says are needed in order for him to support a tax hike to balance the spending plan.

In the wake of Friday's announcement, it remains unclear how Rauner could cut the budget if there isn't a budget in place by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

In the spending proposal he outlined in February, Rauner said he wanted to reduce Amtrak's subsidy by 40 percent, a move that Amtrak said would result in cuts to Illinois trains serving Carbondale, Mattoon, Normal, Quincy and other points on the three lines that connect downstate with Chicago.

That brought concern from lawmakers and university town officials, who say reductions would hurt students, businesses and tourism.

The spending blueprint approved by the Democratic-controlled House and Senate keeps Amtrak's subsidy at its current $42 million level.

For now, despite some interruptions in service because of ongoing summer-time work to convert the Chicago-St. Louis line to accommodate higher speeds, Amtrak is continuing to operate under its current schedule.

"We don't anticipate any July 1 change," Magliari said.

IDOT did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday.

But House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, told reporters Tuesday that Rauner's demands, as well as his launch of $1 million in negative television ads this week, are "extreme."

Follow Kurt Erickson on Twitter: @Illinois_Stage

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments