RTA Chairman on His Calls for a Tax Hike


Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Kirk Dillard has just called for new tax revenue to help fund the region's mass transit systems which currently have a $30 billion project backlog. Chairman Dillard joins us to discuss the need for new revenue and the impact of proposed cuts to transportation funding by Gov. Bruce Rauner. 


The RTA is the government body responsible for regional financial and budgetary oversight, funding and transportation planning for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, PACE, and ADA Paratransit Service. These service boards each adopt an individual operating budget and capital program through their own board processes. The RTA provides bus and rail services in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, covering approximately 3,700 square miles.

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In his first budget address, Gov. Bruce Rauner addressed budget cuts to transportation.

“While the state tightens its belt, so too must local governments and transportation agencies… Similarly, waste and inefficiency can be cut from the complex web that comprises our public transportation structure.

Statewide, our public transportation agencies spend billions of taxpayer dollars. Our budget reductions for the state’s largest transit agency amount to less than 5 percent of its overall budget, and here, too, the proposals in our turnaround agenda give our transportation entities the tools to save hundreds of millions of dollars. Reining in these costs allows us to minimize reductions in other areas of the budget.”

In March, the RTA projected proposed cuts by Rauner would total an estimated $169.5 million region wide for fiscal year 2016, which begins on July 1, 2015 and ends on June 30, 2016.  

That same month, the RTA released its 2015 Operating and Capital Business Plan, which also includes a two-year financial plan and five-year capital program. The budget was put together based on the region’s funding and service conditions as of December 17, 2014. That’s when the RTA adopted an ordinance approving the operating and capital programs of the service boards, RTA Agency, and region as a whole. 

In its budget, the RTA projected operating revenue of $1.139 billion (an increase of 2.5 percent from 2014), and projected continued revenue growth in 2016 and 2017 (2.7 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively). According to the RTA, public funding comprises 60.7 percent of total regional revenues and was projected at $1.756 billion in 2015.

View a chart of projected revenues for the RTA and its service boards.

Service Board  2013 Actual 2014 Estimate 2015 Budget 2016 Plan 2017 Plan
CTA $668,963 $683,531 $687,519 $694,660 $705,215
Metra $363,991 $351,538 $375,938 $398,538 $428,838
PACE $57,220 $59,652 $61,066 $61,856 $63,868
ADA Paratransit $13,634 $15,767 $14,013 $14,629 $15,275
Total Operating Revenues $1,103,808 $1,110,487 $1,138,536 $1,169,683 $1,213,195

(Dollars in the thousands; Source: RTA Operating Budget: Two-Year Financial Plan and Five-Year Capital Program)

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