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March 6, 2002

Governor Ryan, Mayor Daley Ask Congress to Put Aviation Pact Into Law

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley will appear before a House Committee to testify in support of a House bill to put into federal law their recent aviation agreement to modernize O’Hare, build an additional airport near Peotone and keep Megis Field open.

Governor Ryan’s testimony before the House Aviation Subcommittee will explain how he came to his position on expanding aviation capacity in Northeastern Illinois and the unprecedented deal he struck with Mayor Daley last December. U.S. Rep. Bill Lipinski (D-Chicago) and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) have proposed bills, H.R. 3479 and S. 1786, to put the agreement into federal law. Both Mayor Daley and Gov. Ryan insist that this deal be adopted into federal law to prevent future elected officials from undoing the agreement.

“O’Hare expansion has been a politically volatile issue for more than 20 years. In addition to the increased air service and reduced delays, this agreement will produce nearly 200,000 jobs and $20 billion in annual economic impact," Gov. Ryan said. "That to me, was the most compelling reason to make this agreement. It creates JOBS. Anyone who tells you otherwise about this project is simply not telling the truth. This package will keep Illinois residents working.”

The Governor reminded the panel that members of Congress last year demanded a solution to airline delays and the lack of aviation capacity in Chicago. Some members of Congress threatened federal intervention if state and city leaders could not come to agreement on a plan.

While the Governor opposed earlier Congressional proposals to strip Governors of final approval of runway plans, Gov. Ryan said now that he and Mayor Daley have reached an agreement, it is important to give it the long-term commitment that it requires.

"We have now delivered everything you wanted," Gov. Ryan said. "The bill now before you, Congressman Lipinski’s H.R. 3479, simply codifies the agreement the Mayor and I reached.

"This bill would not affect the power of future Governors to make decisions about future airport expansion plans in Illinois. It merely helps to make our final agreement for O’Hare, Peotone and Meigs truly final," Gov. Ryan said.

In February, Governor Ryan met with several members of Congress to build support for the legislation including Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), and Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Charles Grassley (R-IA).

"Now is the time for Congress to act, and it is appropriate to do so," Gov. Ryan said. "Delays and congestion at O’Hare are a national crisis. The strength of the nation’s air transportation system is a national priority. Developing more capacity with a supplemental airport in the Chicago area is also a national concern and a long-term investment in keeping our nation’s aviation system strong. Approving our agreement will well-serve the American people, our air transportation system and this nation’s economy.”


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