* 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.
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* 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…