Chicago Green Jobs

Green Jobs and Governor Quinn: The Proposed State Budget
March 19, 2009, 4:12 am
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Our shiny new governor, Pat Quinn, is pitching a $26 billion jobs plan as part of his $53 billion fiscal year 2010 state budget. In his first address to the state legislature today, he said the plan will “support” 340,000 jobs. What with the state unemployment rate at 7.9% (which means 500,000 people are looking for work), “supporting” jobs definitely seems like a good plan. “Creating” 340,000 jobs would be better, but I think we can all agree that naming nearly half of the budget the “Illinois Jobs Now” initiative is pretty smart politics. So let’s go to the details:

– $14 billion to build and upgrade roads and bridges

– $5 billion to improve public transit

– $4 billion to repair schools

– $ 1 billion for economic development efforts

– $2 billion for environmental, energy and technology projects

Hmmm…necessary infrastructure, necessary infrastructure, more necessary infrastructure – wait! Environmental, energy and tech projects sounds pretty green jobalicious! Unfortunately, Governor Quinn didn’t go into any detail with regard to just what those environmental projects would be. On the other hand, he gave a shout out to incorporating sustainable features into that $14 billion on building roads and bridges: “We won’t just pour concrete and asphalt. We’ll make sure major projects are energy-efficient and sustainable.” Right on, Quinn – we need sustainability integrated into all our new spending, not fenced off into isolated projects.

Of course, this same speech to the legislature included the minor little detail that this $53 billion budget counts on a 50% income tax increase.  The proposed shift from a 3% to a 4.5% tax rate would be the first income tax increase in 20 years, which gives you an idea of just how hard it is to sell tax increases in the land of Lincoln.

So Quinn’s budget is the opening salvo in what is sure to be a hard fight to figure out a way to address the state’s $11.5 billion deficit. For the moment, we can at least be confident that Quinn will propose green spending and green collar job creation. Now we need to get on the phone and see about talking our state legislatures into passing that spending.


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