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Transportation Advocates Hail Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Transportation Lockbox

CHICAGO, IL — A diverse coalition of industry groups praised the recent ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court that Cook County and other home-rule units of government must comply with the Safe Roads Amendment to the Illinois Constitution.

The Supreme Court heard this appeal arising from a case brought against Cook County for violations of the Safe Roads Amendment to the Illinois Constitution (Article IX, Section 11). The suit alleged that Cook County unlawfully diverts approximately $250 million annually in revenue collected from transportation-related taxes and fees. Cook County did not deny that those taxes and revenues are generated from transportation, but claimed that home rule units of government, such as Cook County, are exempt from complying with the amendment.

Nearly 79 percent of Cook County voters in 2016 supported the Safe Roads Amendment to place transportation fees collected into a "lockbox" to prevent funding diversions. The language of the amendment, together with the ballot summary language clearly includes every unit of government in Illinois. In addition, the Illinois General Assembly clarified that all transportation revenues, including those generated by home rule units of government, are covered by the Safe Roads Amendment through the Transportation Funding Protection Act, enacted in 2018.

In the opinion by Justice Rita B. Garman, the Supreme Court held that “the amendment, by its plain language, applies to all moneys derived from transportation-related taxes, fees, excises, or license taxes.”

"We are gratified with the Supreme Court’s decision that requires Cook County and all home rule units of government to adhere to the Illinois Constitution,” said Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association President & CEO Mike Sturino. “The Safe Roads Amendment clearly applies to every unit of government in Illinois — and that’s what voters understood when they overwhelmingly approved it. This is a victory for the Illinois economy, Illinois workers, and most importantly for Illinois voters. ... We look forward to working with Cook County to ensure compliance with the county’s constitutional obligations while avoiding disruptions to the county’s public services."

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The industry coalition includes the American Council of Engineering Companies (Illinois Chapter), Associated General Contractors of Illinois, Chicagoland Associated General Contractors, Illinois Concrete Pipe Association, Federation of Women Contractors, Great Lakes Construction Association, Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers, Illinois Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, and Underground Contractors Association of Illinois. The coalition was represented by John Fitzgerald, Partner with Tabet DiVito & Rothstein, LLC.

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