Illinois got a D+, Michigan a D, and Ohio a C-. Midwest states didn't fare very well in infrastructure evaluations issued this week by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). But then, neither did states in other regions. The nation as a whole received a grade of D+, up from a D four years ago.
ASCE's quadrennial “report cards” evaluate state infrastructure in six sectors, including drinking water, wastewater, solid waste, roads, bridges and rail. What they don't evaluate is state finances, which aren't in tip-top shape either.
ASCE posted a number of videos to Youtube announcing its 2013 infrastructure report cards. This video focusing on the nation's transit infrastructure features Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other Illinois officials.
In late January, the bond ratings agency Standard & Poors named Illinois the least creditworthy state in the nation. A few days later, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn canceled plans to sell $500 million in 25-year bonds, the proceeds of which would have funded transportation upgrades and school projects.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker raised eyebrows this week when he unveiled plans to borrow more than $1 billion over two years to fund transportation programs. Assuming the state legislature approves it, the plan would bond $994.2 million for transportation, including highways, bridges, interchanges and rail.
Walker may face an up-hill battle, as some legislators say they are uncomfortable with that level of borrowing.
Legislators are taking a much harsher stand on transportation in Michigan. Earlier this week, the House Appropriations subcommittee began its review of the state transportation budget, minus the additional $1.2 billion in road and bridge repair funding requested by Gov. Rick Snyder.
Snyder wants to fund the improvements by increasing gas taxes and vehicle fees, to the ire of many fellow Republicans.
Though Snyder downplays opposition to his plan, his spokesman told reporters, “The last thing we can afford to do is keep kicking this can down the road.”
Right, because as those report cards suggest, it leads nowhere.