PEORIA — As spring turned to summer last year, officials at Peoria's airport kept a cautious eye on the calendar.
Each day that ticked by without a permanent — or temporary — state budget in place delayed the start of a project to replace most of the concrete parking apron outside the gates for airlines at the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport.
It wasn't state money that was at issue, with the Land of Lincoln picking up only 5 percent of the nearly $10 million cost for the two-year project. But the state serves as a pass-through entity for the 90 percent of the project being paid by the Federal Aviation Administration, and no state budget meant that even though the FAA funds were available there was no authorization for the state to forward the cash along under the state's "channeling act."
Such worries could change under legislation introduced by state Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, that would decree future federal funding for specific projects could be passed along with or without a budget in place.
"If the federal government sends money and they've appropriated it and earmarked it for a specific purpose, then we would deem it already appropriated," he said of Senate Bill 583, which awaits a hearing before a Senate appropriations committee.
Ultimately a temporary, six-month budget passed last year just before the fiscal year started, though the airport did still have to briefly postpone the start date of the project, which required shifting gates that airlines operated from.
Work will continue on it in the spring.
"If we had had that legislation in place the year before, there would've been no glitch in starting," airport director Gene Olson said.
Indeed, he noted that a similar "channeling act" in the state of Indiana allows the cash to flow straight through to local entities.
"This project would not have been in jeopardy in Indiana," Olson said.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard