Could a proposal be coming to increase the taxes you pay at the pump? An infrastructure funding bill at the statehouse would require some kind of revenue increase, but not everyone thinks that’s necessary.
State Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, said his House Bill 5084 lays out a plan for infrastructure projects across the state for the coming fiscal year.
“My plan adds an additional billion dollars of resources,” Evans said. “I didn’t specifically say where the resources were coming from, but the plan talks about if we had a billion, what would the results be?”
To get that additional billion dollars, would that take 10 cents more tax per gallon of gas? Fifteen cents? Twenty cents more a gallon? Evans wouldn't say, but he’s open to discussion.
“As an elected official, I have my own ideas, but I want to listen,” Evans said. “It may come from this tax, from that tax, we’ll determine that at a particular point, but for me it’s a discussion.”
Midwest Truckers Association Executive Vice President Don Schaefer said they’re open to finding more revenue for roads, but the state should repeal the Commercial Distribution Fee first. That fee can cost truckers up to $400 extra a year, Schaefer said.
“And that’s money that does not go for roads,” Schaefer said. “It just goes into that big black hole of the government piggy bank.”
Schaefer also opposed any proposal for a vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, tax that would tax drivers per mile.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute said instead of increasing gas taxes, policy makers need to reform burdensome regulations and prevailing wage requirements to make existing tax dollars stretch further.
“We have crippled this process of improving our infrastructure,” Schaefer said. “We can permit to death, we can regulate to death, and we can hold back money and thus our infrastructure is failing us. We need to look at all of these reforms because the process takes forever.”
“Unless we change some of this, we’re going to be sitting here five years from now with crumbling roadways, crumbling waterways, and what have you, because of the fact that we’re so burdened by regulations that we can’t get the work done,” Schaefer said.
Evans said he’s open to discussing such proposals.
As to when his measure would be finalized, Evans couldn't say.
“I don’t have an expectation for the solution to come maybe during this session,” Evans said, “because the governor is still looking to be conservative on transportation.”
The regular session ends May 31. The next fiscal year begins July 1.
Gov. Bruce Rauner laid out his vision for infrastructure in Illinois during his budget address last month.
“Our budget provides $2.2 billion in pay-as-you-go funds for the Department of Transportation’s annual road program,” Rauner said. “Additionally, we will provide $511 million in new capital funds for other IDOT needs in FY19.”
Rauner said to pay for it, the state should find savings through various spending reforms like a pension cost shift, selling the Thompson Center in Chicago and savings in state employee group health insurance, among other proposals.