‘Workers and their families are hurting’; J.B. Pritzker announces $25 million infrastructure grant

May 12, 2020

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday a program dedicated to providing $25 million to assist local infrastructure programs over the summer months. According to Pritzker, the funding originates from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

“These grants are part of a $50 million program through Rebuild Illinois that we’re expediting to help cover local projects that may have otherwise been cancelled due to revenue loss related to COVID-19,” said Pritzker, speaking from his Springfield home.

Pritzker stated his hope that the grant will renew interest in infrastructure projects and return skilled labor to Illinois’ markets over the “busy summer season.” Shovel-ready enterprises such as schools, townships and “other entities” are eligible to apply for the funding, which is available through June 30.

Funding will be prioritized to projects in underserved communities and opportunity zones, said Pritzker. However, all communities are eligible and encouraged to apply.

According to Pritzker, Illinois must also pass legislation to assist families, small businesses and hospitals amid a battle he describes as both health-related and economic in nature.

Consequently, Illinois state officials aim to extend state protections against evictions while expanding rent and mortgage assistance for small businesses.

“We ought to provide grants and loans for businesses starting and restarting and tax credit for small business job recovery,” said Pritzker. “Industries and businesses left out of the federal PPE should be first in line and we must pass a law to distribute funds to small cities and towns to support their need to fund first responders and basic services that could fall apart from COVID-related revenue loss.”

Illinois state officials already banned residential evictions while providing rent and utility assistance. Illinois also delayed tax-filing deadlines and expanded unemployment eligibility.

However, Pritzker also opined that short-term relief isn’t enough to offset a financial burden that has become indefinite pending scientific breakthroughs.

“That isn’t enough, we must do more,” said Pritzker. “The legislature must convene so that we can begin to put our financial and economic house back in order even as we battle this terrible virus. The general assembly needs to pass a comprehensive plan to support families, small businesses and small towns.”

Addressing the stunted revenue streams experienced by hospitals throughout Illinois, Pritzker introduced the Hospital Stability Payment Program, which runs through the end of June.

[The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services] has already begun the distribution of $75 million to hospitals across the state of Illinois,” said Pritzker.

“The last two months have made exceptionally clear how critically important strengthening our hospital system is for communities across Illinois. Not just in times of emergency, but as a continuous source of medical support for our residence, as an employer, and as a way to put an end to longstanding disparities in healthcare access and delivery.”

Read more by Matthew Rago:

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker anticipates delay in COVID-19 peak, Illinois announces arrival of COVID-19 trial drug

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