Illinois adds money to jobs program, veterans tax credit

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed two bills designed to improve the jobs picture in his state. The first bill adds $1.6 billion in funding to the Illinois Jobs Now! program in a combination of jobs programs and public infrastructure projects. The second bill creates tax incentives for businesses that hire veterans and gives property tax relief to homeowners with spouses that died in service.

First passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Quinn in 2009, the six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital program in state history. Of the $14 billion in the program dedicated for transportation needs, $10.7 billion has been spent on projects that have improved 6,426 miles of roadway and 961 bridges. CivSource has reported on the initiative’s funding of broadband, education, and significant public transportation improvements throughout the state. The next phase is no different, the $1.6 billion authorized to the program will go for more infrastructure improvements including road and bridge work around the city of Chicago. One of the larger projects of the Quinn administration has been to modernize the state’s widely used, but aging transportation infrastructure.

The state estimates that the Illinois Jobs Now! projects have or will create over 140,000 in the state. “Three years ago, we passed the largest capital construction program in Illinois history to put people to work repairing roads, bridges and transit systems across our state,” Governor Quinn said in a statement. “Today’s law ensures that Illinois will continue moving forward.”

The bill authorizes the issuance of more than $1.6 billion in bonds to pay for $817.3 million in new highway projects, including $100 million of direct funding for cities, counties and townships to make local road improvements. Also included is $799.5 million in mass transit and rail improvements during the 2013 fiscal year, including 15 Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) projects and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Red, Purple and Blue Line improvements.

In a separate measure $93.8 million was authorized to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to resurface almost 100 miles of major arterial streets throughout the city. These new funds bring the governor’s total commitment to City of Chicago transportation improvements to $6.1 billion.

Along with the Illinois Jobs Now! projects, the state has also passed a new tax incentive for hiring veterans. The bill raises the existing Illinois Hiring Veterans tax credit from 10% to 20% of annual wages and more than quadruples the annual cap from $1,200 to $5,000. Gold Star families of fallen heroes will also be eligible for a property tax relief credit. The unemployment for young returning Veterans in America was 30% in 2011.

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