CHICAGO, April 17 Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
said on Wednesday he needs legislative approval this session to
issue $2.7 billion of bonds to fund transportation projects.
The Democratic governor said the debt would mark the last
segment of the state's $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now program,
which was passed in 2009 and which aims to spur employment
through capital spending. He added that there should be a debate
on further infrastructure investments and bond issuance.
"I think we can continue to attract major firms from across
the world if we invest in transportation, invest in
construction," he told reporters at a Springfield, Illinois,
news conference unveiling a six-year, $12.6 billion
transportation construction program funded with federal, state
and local dollars.
Standing at 9.5 percent in February, Illinois unemployment
rate is one of the highest of all the states.
Quinn also acknowledged the Democrat-controlled Legislature
has to pass reforms in the spring session that ends May 31 to
rein in the state's ballooning public pension costs. A $96.8
billion unfunded pension liability is weighing on the state's
budget, forcing cuts in core services. It was also the main
driver for a series of credit downgrades that has given Illinois
the lowest bond ratings among states.
The state's fiscal problems, which include an unpaid bill
backlog that has topped $9 billion, are also costing Illinois
money when it issues bonds in the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal
market. Illinois' so-called credit spread over Municipal Market
Data's benchmark triple-A scale is the second widest among major
issuers tracked by MMD. The state's spread for 10-year bonds in
the latest week was 141 basis points versus California's 61