Forum: State foolishly pursues airport
July 31, 2013 8:04PM
Updated: September 3, 2013 7:13AM
Gov. Pat Quinn, whose poll numbers are in the gutter, recently held a news conference where he bragged about spending more money on the proposed Peotone-area airport. He signed legislation giving the Illinois Department of Transportation authority to form a public-private partnership to build and operate the airport.
The state has spent about $40 million to purchase land for the airport and has another $71 million in next year’s budget to take more land from unwilling sellers. Because the state does not pay property tax, that loss of tax revenue is shifted to other taxpayers to compensate.
In addition, all the airlines refuse to go to Peotone, the city of Chicago plans to open a gigantic cargo hub at O’Hare International Airport and the Gary/Chicago Airport is moving forward with local, state and federal support.
Also, the MidAmerica Airport near Mascoutah, Ill., another politically driven project built by IDOT, has sat virtually empty, at taxpayer expense, for 14 years. Building another white elephant would be an immense blunder.
Out in farm country, we don’t believe in putting the cart before the horse. The Federal Aviation Administration has not approved the Peotone-area airport and no private investors are on board, yet Quinn continues to take family farms from unwilling sellers through eminent domain.
It would be far wiser and fairer to first have FAA approval, a commitment from a major airline and guaranteed funding for the airport and surrounding infrastructure before taking homes and farms.
Quinn’s failure to recognize farming as an industry and farmland as an irreplaceable resource demonstrates contempt for farmers and future generations.
(Shut This Airport Nightmare Down)
Medicaid expansion in Cook
A major feature of the new federal health care law, which takes effect Jan. 1, is the expansion of Medicaid for uninsured persons who do not earn enough to purchase private insurance but have not previously qualified for Medicaid.
Cook County received permission from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to start the Medicaid expansion program, called County Care in Cook County, this year instead of in 2014.
To qualify for County Care, a person must reside in Cook County, be from 19 to 64 years old, be a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant for at least five years and have a Social Security number. You also must have an annual income at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,856 for an individual; $20,123 per couple).
To learn more about County Care or to apply by phone, call (312) 864-8200 or toll-free at (855) 444-1661 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. You can also get information on the program at www.cookcountyhhs.org/patient-services/county-care/#two.