Less than half the money exacted from Illinois taxpayers to pay for roads is actually used to pay for roads. The Illinois Auditor General has found that, of the $5.7 billion in the state’s road fund over the past two years, $2.7 billion went to cover salaries at the Illinois Department of Transportation, bond debt payment, and other “nondirect costs.”Three observations:
- Spending 47 cents on the dollar for things other than the services provided is not a sustainable way to operate over the long term.
- The image that will always stay with me about the highway system in Illinois is this: back in the early '80s, we were on a family trip to a wedding in Ohio. We were stuck in an enormous traffic jam on the Tri-State and things where essentially stopped. As we went through a construction zone at about 2 MPH, there was a guy in a safety vest standing on the road holding a sign that said "SLOW." As we crawled past him, my brother rolled down his window and yelled "I can't believe you're getting paid for that." The guy in the vest flashed my brother a big grin. I'd bet dollars to donuts that the guy was a ward committeeman.
- We were in western Illinois (on I-74 from the Quad Cities to Galesburg) about two months back and the roads there were pretty good. For that price, they'd better be.