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Biz leaders want tax hikes for infrastructure

Thursday, Apr 3, 2014

* From the Herald-Whig

Higher fuel taxes could help pay for new road construction under a plan proposed by an Illinois transportation group.

The Transportation for Illinois Coalition unveiled the proposal Tuesday in Springfield. Members say it would provide stability and $1.8 billion annually for construction on roads, bridges, railways and airports.

Coalition chairman Doug Whitley said the plan is needed because a five-year capital construction program, Illinois Jobs Now, is coming to an end this year and the Illinois Department of Transportation is funded at a level that only allows maintenance.

Under the group’s plan, the Legislature should raise vehicle registration fees, impose a 4-cent increase in the gas tax, a 7-cent increase in diesel fuel taxes — coupled with the elimination of the state’s commercial distribution fee — and end ethanol credits for gasoline.

That’s an awful big ask.


The state’s gas tax has stayed the same for more than two decades. This plan would raise it by 4 cents a gallon and 7 cents for diesel fuel. Jennifer Morrison is with the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, which includes business and labor groups. Combined with an increase in vehicle registration fees and a new sales tax on services like auto repair and oil changes, she says the state’s transportation system can avoid total disrepair.

“If we don’t do anything … That would mean one in every three miles would be in unacceptable condition,” she said.

Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, says without a long term plan, drivers could be in danger. He points to road and bridge failures.

“What happened in Minnesota, what happened in Washington is disastrous and we don’t want that,” he said.

Much more info can be found by clicking here.

* Bruce Rauner’s response

Rauner also said he wanted the state to spend more on infrastructure improvement, although he also said he didn’t think Illinois’ motor fuel tax would need to be increased.

“I don’t think so today, based on what I’ve seen,” he said.

George Ryan said the same thing in his 1998 bid. Just sayin…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Just Me - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    The motor fuel tax has not changed in decades, but due to inflation the purchasing power of that tax has been cut in half. Also, cars are twice as fuel efficient now then they were when the tax was created, so drivers don’t fill up their tanks as often as they used too either.

    The best way to handle this issue is to completely reform the motor fuel tax, including the sales tax on the motor fuel tax problem, and then conveniently at the end of the day the reforms generate additional revenue.

  2. - TCB - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    Rauner: Let to income tax expire, no millionaire’s tax and no new fuel taxes…….yet still plans to properly fund education and improve infrastructure.

    For the 1st time in his life, Mr Rauner is writing checks he can’t cash.

  3. - Darienite - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    @Just Me; exactly. Plus motor fuel tax should go for Transportation, and not the General Fund, as a portion of it currently does. The tax on auto repair is debatable - ‘why am I getting a front end alignment? Potholes.’

  4. - Birdseed - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    In hindsight, they should have established the original Motor Fuel Tax as a percentage of the cost of fuel - not just a flat rate per gallon.

  5. - Secretariat - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    OMG!! Brucie has a comment but NO PLAN???

  6. - Chicago Publius - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    Oh, I get it. As far as Big Business is concerned (including the roadbuilders, bond underwriters, silk-stocking law firms, the Class I railroads, and intermodal developers), the State is “too broke” to pay public pension debts. But it’s not “too broke” to pay for projects that benefit big business. OK. Now I understand.

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:36 pm:

    So instead Of filling up in Illinois, Truckers on 70, for example, will fill up in Terre Haute or St Louis. Brilliant!

  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    This Rauner guy is a genius. He’s going to spend more on everything and cut taxes at the same time. And give everyone a pony.

  9. - JackD - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    Why is it, exactly, that general revenues supported by income taxes can’t fund infrastructure work?

  10. - Hit or Miss - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    ===Rauner: Let to income tax expire, no millionaire’s tax and no new fuel taxes…….yet still plans to properly fund education and improve infrastructure.===

    If Rauner gets his way, a big if, then the question is who will get less? With less income for the state and a few sectors receiving more the math implies major reductions in some other sections of the budget but which one(s)? Is there a plan, listing dollar values, that the candidate can share with the voters?

  11. - RNUG - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    Guess the time is coming to switch the 3 vehicles that qualify from straight plates to EA or AV plates …

  12. - Kerfuffle - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    The state’s gas tax has not had to increase because it is based on the per gallon price of gas rather than the number of gallons. So if gas prices continue to rise (and they have risen substantially over the last five years) funds should be plentiful without the self serving interests of the coalition members who want to get rich on infrastructure upgrades.

  13. - Darienite - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:14 pm:

    @Birdseed; when MFT was established, it was 5 cents per gallon, with the state keeping 4 cents and the local agency where the gas was bought got 1 cent per gallon. That was when gas went for 30 cents a gallon, and you got green stamps.
    @JackD; if you don’t drive a car (there are some out there), you would be paying more on your income tax, but receive no benefit - at least that’s the arguement.

  14. - Sunshine - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    Now, what to do about all those electric cars? How can we tax them?

    I too vote for a percentage of the cost of a gallon of gasoline and will also insist that it stays in the road fund. Will that mean more employees, greater union benefits, more pension, and more long term debt?.

  15. - Kerfuffle - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    According to the tax foundation, Illinois ranks 5th in the country as far as the tax per gallon. I know we want to rank first in something but higher gasoline taxed shouldn’t be it.

  16. - Darienite - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:17 pm:

    @Kerfuffle; you may be confusing the sales tax, which is percentage based, vs. MFT which is per gallon. You are paying both when you buy gas.

  17. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    I’m tired of the vehicle registration fee increasing with every new capital program.

    Here’s an idea. Charge more for electric and hybrid cars.

  18. - kimocat - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    Darienite is correct. MFT is and always has been cents per gallon. When gas prices rise high, it is the oil companies and marketers that rake it in — not the Highway Trust Fund. Let’s bring back the Windfall Profits Tax!

  19. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    Also keep in mind that a large percentage of what gets spent on highway and transit infrastructure comes from federal funds. 18.4c for gasoline, with a little under 3c going into the Federal Transit Administration account and most of the rest going to dedicated highway funds. For the bulk of the time the original Eisenhower Interstate system was being built, the federal gas tax was 3c a gallon and the state tax was 5c. I am not sure a tax indexed to price rather than # of gallons is that much more helpful; in 2008 the price fluctuated between under $2 a gallon to almost $5 a gallon. The future will be a usage tax, when they can figure out how to do it. JackD, there are already too many competing priorities for the general fund and income tax funds without transportation taking a bigger seat at that table.

  20. - PMcP - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    I will gladly pay higher fuel taxes to fund infrastructure improvements. It would be even better if the federal government would get their heads out of the sand and peg the gas tax to inflation and/or change all interstates to toll roads. It would incentivize alternate forms of travel and fund infrastructure, total win-win.

  21. - Kerfuffle - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:41 pm:

    I stand corrected but the ranking 5th in highest overall taxes on gas still stands.

  22. - dupage dan - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:52 pm:

    As a person who owns 5 motor vehicles currently in use on the roads, with 3 of them running on diesel fuel, I think the 7 cent tax on that is unfair in light of the 4 cent rise in gas tax.

    OTOH, I get well over 40mpg on the 2 cars and don’t use the huge truck much so I’m still ahead of the game. Sheesh, the price of fuel fluctuates that much in a week - who would notice?

    I think it would hit OTR truckers hard, tho. The drivers operate on very thin margins - it’s tough out there.

  23. - dupage dan - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    === - Sir Reel - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    I’m tired of the vehicle registration fee increasing with every new capital program.

    Here’s an idea. Charge more for electric and hybrid cars ===

    Careful what you ask for. There is a movement afoot that could result in a mileage “black box” that would be installed on all motor vehicles that would record miles travelled, rather than fuel used. So, for the more efficient vehicles (like mine) we would be taxed much greater than the gas hogs. Worse for the all electric cars which do not use liquid/gaseous fuels at all.

    When you think about it - it is far more fair than the current system since all vehicles, no matter how efficient, have an effect on the road surface and should pay accordingly.

    Come to think of it, why the h&!! am I saying this?

  24. - RNUG - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:03 pm:

    - dupage dan - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    Yes, but do we want really the black box collecting all that GPS data for the nanny governments and insurance companies?

    BTW: I realize the rental cars already do this, as do some of the private new cars on the raod.

  25. - fed up - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:05 pm:

    I have no problem with an increase in the gas tax it is incredibly low compared to most of the world. Our roads and bridges are in terrible shape, and the jobs created would be a nice bonus.
    One of the taxes I think the Feds should raise but Illinois needs to make this investment also.

  26. - DuPage - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:09 pm:

    I could see another 5 cents a gallon only if it was used for roads only, no other use. No more diverting to the CTA.
    Fees on registration should not be increased at all until they stop funding other unrelated programs out of motor vehicle funds. One such program funded by Jesse White is grants to politically connected libraries. The secretary of state is also the State Librarian. At Jesse White’s request, legislation was passed allowing him to take money from vehicle fees and fund these grants to the libraries. I have heard these grants described as “being able to have these programs at our libraries without costing anybody anything.” It costs drivers. Not saying the library programs are or are not worthwhile. I am saying the should not be funded out of vehicle fees.

  27. - Jimbo - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:12 pm:

    Black box… No need for speed cameras then.

  28. - illinifan - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    I thought Rauner was a businessman….how do you pay for education, roads, employees, services and somehow you don’t need to tax? If it sounds like you are being sold snake oil….it may be snake oil.

  29. - PMcP - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:19 pm:


    If you really think about the purpose of maintenance and capital funds , diverting funds to alternate transit modes makes sense for the gas tax. For example, it is impossible to expand the Kennedy but we can refurbish the blue line to speed travel times and run more trains which would make it more convenient than driving and take cars off the road. Transit is a completely viable and appropriate use of those funds.

    That being said, the most pressing issues should be done first regardless of where and what they may be; road or transit.

  30. - Anon III - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    [The above is (should be) a paid advertisement.]

  31. - PMcP - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    @anon III

    … Or a real-world example of congestion easing when there isn’t an alternative. No, but your right who would do such a thing?

  32. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:48 pm:

    Rauner apparently wants to spend money but doesn’t believe he needs any revenue to do so.

  33. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:51 pm:

    For example, it is impossible to expand the Kennedy but we can refurbish the blue line to speed travel times and run more trains which would make it more convenient than driving and take cars off the road.

    In the not-too-distant future, we will be able to expand capacity on the expressways without actually adding lanes, and maybe even reducing them. It is not inconceivable that we will have electronic guidance that could squeeze 2 or 3 times the number of vehicles per hour through a given space. Of course, this will make it necessary that all vehicles in such a system be compatible and in excellent state of repair in order to access the system.

    The technology is loosely described under the term “Automated Guided Vehicle Systems” (AGVS)which is primarily being used these days in the warehousing industry for forklifts, etc. but is being developed for highway use by others, including Google.

  34. - PMcP - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    @ six degrees

    That’s an option but how does that have any relation to a gas tax? That kind of change would be consumer driven unless we’re assuming a tax refund to purchase the vehicle? The sheer logistics of that kind of system would mean, if implemented today, would take 20+ years for all cars to have that system for it to be viable. Still doesn’t solve today’s problems unfortunately but it will be interesting to see how it is implemented.

  35. - cicero - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    == George Ryan said the same thing in his 1998 bid. Just sayin… ==

    But Rauner depicts himself as NOT a typical politician. Given his latest positions, he is reminding me of three GOP predecessors who opposed tax hikes until after the election (Thompson — twice, Edgar with his proposed 1997 income tax hike, and Ryan with various tax/fee hikes to fund his building program.)

    Is that really how to restore credibility in the governor’s office? Tell people they can have more spending AND lower taxes? Until after the election.

  36. - DuPage - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    @PMcP3:19=diverting funds to alternate transit modes makes sense for the gas tax.=
    The money was all approved (federal paying most of it), for the “crosstown expressway”. That money was then diverted to mass transit. Jane Byrne said “we don’t need the Crosstown, we have the RTA instead”. Now look at the mess.

  37. - PMcP - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:07 pm:


    Ha, the same people that appoint transit management also appoint IDOT management, if that’s your complaint, what the hell is the difference?

  38. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:17 pm:

    Perhaps he’s going to self fund all of this stuff.

  39. - Former IDOT - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:54 pm:

    I have a few of questions. The press releases say money to “railways”. Do they mean public transportation or private corporations? How much would they need if they quit diverting MFT funds to ISP, SOS and other entities they’ve stretched the law to cover. Will this increase provide the funding for High Speed Rail costs (this IS a state owned entity)? Just wondering.

  40. - Highway Engineer - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:13 pm:

    The International Fuel Tax Agreement already covers truck drivers that travel in more than one state.

    In 2013, Illinois paid about $2.5 million to IFTA to cover truckers that filled up in Illinois.

    See IFTA Payments to Other States -

  41. - DuPage - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:23 pm:

    Not the management, the diverting the highway money to the RTA. The end result is the badly needed highway was never built. The result is more traffic on existing roads, calls for more money to be diverted from highways to the RTA. Meanwhile the roads and bridges are in bad shape, the money not there to fix them.

  42. - drew - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:53 pm:

    If a plan to charge a per mile tax were implemented, the calculation should be based on miles traveled multiplied by weight of the vehicle, since heavier vehicles cause more wear and tear on the roads.

  43. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 6:29 pm:

    @PMcP, anything that will make an *appreciable* difference in congestion will take 10 to 20 years to implement if started now, and I’d dare say that fully-implemented AGVS, hopefully within a fleet of high mpg or alternately-powered vehicles, would be more of a difference maker than any of the half-measures now being contemplated. Unless express rail could deliver a 15 minute trip to OHare, I doubt that speeding up the CTA would take more than a few thousand vehicles off the 200,000 now on the Kennedy. Also, only a fraction of the trips on the Kennedy mirror the movements on the Blue Line, and could be directly displaced by faster O’Hare to Loop service on that line. The most cost effective change that might be considered for the Blue Line could be to re-implement the skip-stop system, where half the stops are made by one train and the other half are made by the next train. Making over the Blue Line to have full, 3 track express capability would be just as daunting a project as a Kennedy expansion.

    @Drew, a mileage based tax would most certainly charge an 80,000 lb. truck more than a car, just like the toll roads do now.

  44. - Harley - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 7:11 pm:

    I don’t think anyone notices an increase in the motor fuel tax. The price of gasoline fluctuates so much anyway that I don’t think it matters. Infrastructure is the backbone to our economy. Another important point is that I am not aware of any legislator losing an election for voting for an infrastructure program. They can simply point to road and bridge improvements in their areas that would not have been possible without additional investments.

  45. - danray - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 7:43 pm:

    Rauner really does the represent the death of Illinois. Kinda scary actually.

  46. - A modest proposal - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 10:18 pm:

    How about we use the old tax hie to pay our backlog of unpaid bills?

  47. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 1:29 am:

    === OMG!! Brucie has a comment but NO PLAN??? ===

    Bruce has a plan.

    Stay vague as long as humanly possible.

    If you spend much time on capitolfax, or even follow politics at all, it sounds like a horrible plan.

    That’s because we are not normal.

    We are interested in public policy. We thirst for detail.

    Normal people happily vote for an empty suit. They have faith that the empty suit will make things better because, well, everyone needs to believe in something.

  48. - Arizona Bob - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 8:29 am:

    =Rauner really does the represent the death of Illinois. Kinda scary actually.=

    There’s not much there left to kill after more than a decade of Blago, Quinn, and Madigan rule.

    Illinois is dead. The people of Illinois, by their electoral choices for complete Dem and RINO rule, have chosen not to apply CPR.

    We just haven’t reached room temperature yet.

  49. - Pete - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    Chicago has just updated their complete streets list of priorities.

    Pedestrians, cyclists, transit, then cars… in that order.

    The only one paying for the streets are the cars, but they get the lowest priority. This is the current mentality in Illinois. Kind of silly.
    Pedestrians and bicycles pay no fees for sidewalks and bike lanes. Those things are not free, and should come with a users fee. A tax on shoes to fund sidewalks and a tax on bicycle sales to fund the bike lanes. Additional dedicated tax on the Divvy rentals too.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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