Outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a news conference Tuesday with various suburban mayors, including Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, to call for a statewide transportation funding bill.
Emanuel said funding for the bill should come from a 20- to 30-cent increase in the motor fuel, or gas, tax. Emanuel’s office later put out a news release in conjunction with the news conference, which included O’Dekirk, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann and Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland in a list with other suburban mayors who reportedly supported the tax hike.
A second version of the release later was sent that did not include the names.
All three mayors, who are members of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, said they were not made aware their names would go on the list, and they did not support a gas tax increase.
Dave Bennett, executive director of the caucus, told the Northwest Herald he compiled a list of men and women who the organization believed could support a capital bill.
I had no idea that it was going to be published,” Bennett said. Furthermore, Bennett said his organization has not endorsed the proposal to raise the tax to 30 cents.
He said the list was released as an accident.
“We support the idea that there ought to be a transportation funding bill moving forward. ... We did not commit to what the mayor sent out,” he said.
The mayors of Joliet, New Lenox and Frankfort also all agreed the topic of infrastructure improvement was an important one, especially given the state of some local roads and bridges.
“I think there’s a lot of work yet that the legislature has to do to come up with funding sources before I would support anything in particular,” Baldermann said. “I won’t support anything if it’s not good for our area.”
O’Dekirk echoed Baldermann.
“I would be fearful if a statewide penalty is imposed that the money would not be appropriated fairly across the state,” he said.