WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The leaders of Illinois cities met with their senators while in Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and while there was a lot to discuss, one issue rose above the rest.
“Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said. “We need to update everything from our roads to our rails to our airports.”
Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and Evanston Mayor Stephen Hagerty said cities all around Illinois desperately need federal dollars to repair deteriorating roads and bridges.
“All of a sudden, it will be front and center when a bridge collapses,” Hagerty said.
The mayors spent nearly an hour Thursday morning with Duckworth and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. The senators said they listened and are dedicated to finding solutions.
But Durbin also noted little can be done until Republican President Donald Trump is on board.
“President Trump promised an infrastructure bill,” Durbin said. “We’re hoping we have one.”
He said the president should consider raising the federal gas tax to pay for roads, noting it “hasn’t been touched in a long, long time.”
Most mayors said they left the meeting feeling optimistic.
“We have a lot of challenges, but also we have a lot of hope,” Chirico said.
Other issues the mayors brought up included climate change and flooding, as well as new Illinois’ new recreational marijuana law.
Durbin said he is working on decriminalizing marijuana on the federal level so that cannabis business owners in his home state can operate more freely. He said the federal government must conduct studies to debunk lingering unsubstantiated misconceptions about marijuana.