CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Board of Education is borrowing $1 billion. City Hall is contemplating a property tax hike. Cook County may raise the sales tax by one percent — again. But at Chicago’s mass transit agencies there is no panic and it is business as usual.
In contrast to other state and local agencies in recent weeks, there was a sense of calm at Thursday’s meeting of the Regional Transportation Authority’s board of directors. The Chicago area’s three mass transit agencies were reassuring riders there won’t be any immediate changes in fares or service levels if the state budget impasse drags on.
As always, RTA executive director Leanne Redden began her report to the board with the amount of matching funds the state owes it. As of Thursday, the figure was $271.5 million, so much that payment of state matching funds is five months behind, but what has always been considered bad news has suddenly turned good, because the backlog means funding guaranteed under state law and the state’s fiscal 2015 budget will continue to flow into the fall despite the crisis.
“That’s correct,” Redden said. “At this point, for the foreseeable few months, the buses and trains will still keep running. The capital conversation might be a bit different, but buses and trains will still keep running.”