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Sandoval: SDems looking at 16 to 23 cents motor fuel tax hike

Friday, Feb 20, 2009

* I told subscribers about this earlier, but WTAX has a story up so here you go

While the House is considering a seven-billion-dollar building and construction plan, Senate Democrats are working on a 25-billion dollar plan.

The House proposal would be funded by an eight-cent [per gallon motor fuel tax] hike. The Senate plan may take an up to 23-cent [per gallon motor fuel tax] hike, and income tax hike, and perhaps an increase in the state’s driver’s license and title fees.

Democrat Senator Martin Sandoval says he wants the larger, more robust and comprehensive plan because it would fund roads and bridges, plus schools, parks, libraries, police and fire stations, and more.

Sandoval said the tax increase would range somewhere between 16 and 23 cents per gallon. He also said the Senate Democrats believe that it will be Gov. Quinn who will propose an income tax increase.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - John Bambenek - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:32 pm:

    Nothing quite like massive tax increases to stimulate an economy in recession…

  2. - KEEPINGITREAL - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:35 pm:

    It will never happen.

  3. - Anon - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:42 pm:

    So much for our tax breaks from the Feds later this year.

  4. - Dan S, a Voter, Taxpayer and Cubs Fan - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:43 pm:

    Just when I could not always need to squeeze the sweet out of the Buffalo on a nickle this would have me doing it to Abe on a penny.

  5. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:43 pm:

    We see where our $13 a week is going…

  6. - Njardar - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:43 pm:

    Can you say POLITICAL SUICIDE!

  7. - Dan S, a Voter, Taxpayer and Cubs Fan - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:45 pm:

    Don’t make Milorad look like a prophit.

  8. - Dirtybird - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:46 pm:

    Poor Representative Bradley…he must have drawn the short straw…

  9. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:47 pm:

    So, we increase the gas tax, which is disproportionately paid by lower income people, who often receive state assistance to make ends meet - sounds like a great jackass way to spin our wheels, doesn’t it?

    But then, if we spin our wheels, that would take more gas, which would mean more in taxes…

    Raising the gas tax hurts low income Illinoians hardest. When they tank up, they may be paying an additional $4.00, and then another $4 a few days later, and then another $4 a few days later…Yup, they’ll be paying an additional $30 a month in taxes to go to work, or look for work, commute to day care, and they better not live in rural areas where they would need to drive even more miles and lose even more of what little income they make.

  10. - Just a Citizen - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:50 pm:

    This is unbelievable! Where do they think the citizens are going to be digging up the extra money to pay these taxes? We all need to write these out of touch folks and let them know how repressive their proposals are.

  11. - Dan S, a Voter, Taxpayer and Cubs Fan - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:51 pm:

    Excellent point VM.

  12. - Kevin Highland - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:53 pm:

    time to by a snowmobile suit so I can ride my fuel efficent motorcycle all year long

  13. - Belle - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:54 pm:

    And this would be in addition to the ‘pay by the mile’ plan Lahood is looking at? I gotta see if my subdivision allows horses!

  14. - George - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:54 pm:

    Does the Senate know they don’t have to raise $25 billion in State money alone?

    They just need to raise $1 billion in recurring revenue to bond $10 billion. Add about $11 billion in federal money, and a local match, and you have the $25 billion plan that everyone has been talking about for 2 years.

    The Senate, with all those new revenues, appears to be looking at more of a $40 billion capital plan.

  15. - Bookworm - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:56 pm:

    I understand the need for infrastructure projects, believe me; but it wasn’t that long ago that I was struggling to keep gas in my tank just to make it to work every day, and a gas tax hike that big would indeed hurt poor people — particularly rural poor people who don’t have access to public transit — worst of all.

    Increasing license and title fees is also a hardship to poor people who have to drive to work. I know — coughing up the $78 when sticker time came around has put a serious pinch on me more than once.

    Something needs to be done, the 8 cent gas tax hike I could live with, but 23 cents on top of all that other stuff is just too much to dump on us all at once.

  16. - George - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:56 pm:

    Meanwhile that “only $7 billion” house plan is probably a $16-$18 billion plan when you add in the federal money and local match.

  17. - grand old partisan - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 2:59 pm:

    I think that we should be spending much more than we currently do on infrastructure – when you get right down to it, isn’t that one of the fundamental reasons government exists in the first place?

    What really gets me mad is that for over the last 3 generations, we’ve seen government expenditures (as a % of GDP) on common-use, public infrastructure drop while spending and obligations for individual entitlements has skyrocketed – yet whenever a tax increase is proposed, it’s always said to be needed to increase the former, without any acknowledgement of that fact that shortfall is caused by the later.

  18. - Cassandra - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:04 pm:

    I think our $13 a week, or a lot of it, will likely go out in the income tax hike that seems to be gathering supporters.

    Someone calculated that California’s just-passed income tax surcharge will wipe out half of the Obama tax cut for the average Californian, and
    most of the cut for families making $150,000 and up. Apparently, stimulating consumer spending isn’t all that important in California, nor in
    Illinois judging by the favorable attention a tax hike has been receiving from legislators and Dem political leaders.

  19. - It's 5 O'clock somewhere - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:05 pm:

    Tonights game Illinois General Assembly VS. the Cook County Board. In the new reality game of “Fastest and Highest tax increases” Who can put the most citizens in the unemployment line?

  20. - John Bambenek - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:09 pm:

    It bears repeating… We *need* this capital plan because our elected leaders never bothered to provide base funding to maintain what we have.

    Once this $40! Capital plan is paid, they won’t cut taxes that were raised temporarily, they’ll simply reallocated the windfall “profits” to pet projects instead and repeat the cycle in a decade where we “urgently” need another capital plan…

  21. - South Side Mike - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:12 pm:


    Vehicle taxes are one of the areas where IL lags other states. However, instead of increasing the tags fee, IL could go to an ad valorem tax like many other states. This would limit increases on older vehicles owned by the poor, and would hit more of the well-to-do. $78 is pretty cheap for an annual fee, when that is the only direct car tax.

  22. - montrose - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:12 pm:

    I agree completely with your point Vanilla Man. I hope you make an equally passionate and articulate argument in favor of a progressive income tax the next time the topic comes around.

  23. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:13 pm:

    SO the best way out of a recession is to get people spending money. Sandoval wants to further eliminate available cash on hand for most citizens by taking big chunks of money from them. Those who barley staved off bankruptcy coming up with 4/a gallon gas are not in the clear, the State wants its pound of flesh too.

    How about we stimulate spending by actually leaving as much money as possible in peoples hands! I agree we need some tax increases to dig out, but lets think about not killing off or hurling into bankruptcy the rest of the public.

  24. - what the heck? - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:15 pm:

    Why not tax retiree pension income over $50,000? That would hit most retired teachers and some state workers who currently don’t pay income tax but collect from the state pension funds.

  25. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:15 pm:

    Is this one of those trial balloons where they scare everyone with 16-23 cents per gallon increase in the gas tax and then settle for what they originally wanted, namely 8 cents?

    Or am I being too cynical here?

  26. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:17 pm:

    ===How about we stimulate spending by actually leaving as much money as possible in peoples hands!===

    Here’s one argument: Savings rate is skyrocketing. This forces money into the economy that would’ve been saved.

    I know, there’s also the poor and the unemployed and the multitude of businesses struggling just to make it one more week, but that’s one argument.

  27. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:18 pm:

    ===and then settle for what they originally wanted, namely 8 cents?===

    8 ain’t enough for bare minimum roads/bridges capital plan plus transit and school construction.

  28. - A Citizen - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:27 pm:

    This whole milieu of crises is all a devious plot by the Amish to force us all to give up cars, utilities, paved roads, etc. and return to a simpler healthier and more “green” life!

  29. - Ag Girl - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:28 pm:

    Let’s just drive more businesses out of Illinois. I know where I will buy my gas. We live 20 miles from IN and it is already cheaper there!

  30. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:32 pm:

    VM, while I don’t think your entire point is off base, you’re forgetting the effects on mass transit.

    Gas prices go up = more people use mass transit = more transit revenue (although not nearly enough.

    Also, many of the low-income Illinoisans you’re speaking of already take public transportation to work, don’t they? I mean, if not, let’s park the CTA trains and buses.

    It’s the MIDDLE class that gets hammered with a gas tax. You know who’s getting screwed most here? It’s the people who pay their mortgages every month but are still scraping by, taking care of their priorities but not getting much individual help from the new stimulus plan. People who can’t afford to live in the city, and especially not in the near suburbs, and so they’re in McHenry or Will or Grundy counties and are driving downtown to work. Or better, are driving to get to a train to get to work. And oh, you use the toll roads? That’s another few bucks a month.

    It’s the people in downstate Illinois who have to drive, because mass transit isn’t an option.

    And it’s the proprieters of gas stations and convenient stores within 20 miles of Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky or Indiana, because you know people are just heading over the border.

    (wow, I found myself on a soapbox. didn’t really mean that, but it is what it is)

    Anyway, I’m actually in favor of a gas tax, even though I fit one of the above categories, because the state has to have the revenue. But I’d like to see it capped with the price of gas, and I’d like to see cuts in services, etc., to get a somewhat balanced budget.

  31. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:32 pm:

    Re-reading your post VM, I see you mentioned those downstate who have to drive. I’m glad you haven’t forgotten about them, sorry for assuming you had.

  32. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:34 pm:

    Ag Girl…to travel 40 miles roundtrip (assuming 20 mpg) you would have to save two gallons worth (not considering wear/tear), so at $2 per gallon now and a 20-gallon tank the price difference would have to be 50 cents a gallon. At $4 a gallon it drops to 40 cents. Trust me…I’ve done the math often on the other side of the state.

  33. - Railfan - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:37 pm:

    So if A) we all agree that a capital bill is beyond urgently needed, and B) raising the gas tax is NOT the way to fund it, how do we find the money?

  34. - Legaleagle - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:45 pm:

    Gas tax should be a percentage, not a flxed amount per gallon. Then, as gas prices go up, the state gets more revenue, even if people then drive less.
    Personal entitlements are killing government at all levels - governments cannot do everything for us!

  35. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 3:59 pm:

    While a gas tax increase would probably put far more money in my pocket than it would take out…

    1. It should be directed to a specific purpose with a firewall preventing diversions.

    2. It should be low as possible so that it doesn’t affect the working poor, and especially those without other good options (about 95% of the state’s area) any more than necessary. Believe me, I heard enough about $4 gas from my teenage daughter, who doesn’t have to support a family on her income.

    3. I agree with the earlier comment that vehicle registrations are regressive. If someone can afford a $100k car, they can afford a $400 annual registration. The Joe or Jill who has the $1000 beater often has trouble coming up with the $78 reg fee each year.

    4. Transit advocates and others who would depend on the road fund to fund non-road needs, beware. If you develop a gas tax habit, what happens when the fleet switches to alternative propulsion like electic or high efficiency hybrids? Higher taxes will only push this movement, which will be for the public good but will also bear negative unintended consequences. AAMOF, highway advocates, beware also.

  36. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:03 pm:

    Concerned Observer:

    More use of mass transit increases farebox receipts, but in many cases also increases operating and capital costs. And when #2 escalates faster than #1 on a running basis (as it does in many scenarios), it increases, not decreases, the need for more tax subsidies.

  37. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:09 pm:

    Six, that’s true, but then we can get into the discussion of intangible benefits (cleaner air, etc).

    The big thing is, I don’t think it’s Cook County that’s hit hardest by a gas tax. And I don’t think it’s the immediate collars. I think it’s everyone else, and many of those people aren’t getting the stimulus help.

    You know, this all could have been avoided if we’d voted Poshard… :)

  38. - Secret Square - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:10 pm:

    South Side Mike, your ad valorem tax on vehicles idea might have some merit, but wouldn’t that require a constitutional amendment since the 1970 Constitution abolished all ad valorem personal property taxes? And, would the amount of the tax decrease over time as the value of the vehicle in question depreciated?

  39. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:16 pm:

    Secret Square, thats exactly how many other states handle regisration fees. The amount is based on the value of the vehicle, and goes down as your vehicle depreciates.

  40. - Six Degrees of Separation - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:17 pm:


    I agree with the desirability of intangible benefits. But when faced with a choice of gaining intangible benefits or putting food on the table (and you can only pick one) most people would rather not starve. As a people, we strive for the unattainable, yet attain whatever we need to survive, in a noble or silly quest.

  41. - Concerned Observer - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:25 pm:

    Sixer, I don’t think we’re in disagreement on a lot of this. I was more ranting than anything else, because it’s friday afternoon.

    I don’t WANT to raise the gas tax, but something must be done, and I’m willing to pay it. I don’t want to depend on it for “non-road needs”. I don’t want it at all. But I didn’t put us in a nine-billion dollar hole, either. So I’d like a sunset provision, I’d like it targeted toward certain areas, and I’d like to hang any lawmaker who tries to raid the fund!

  42. - The Doc - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 4:54 pm:

    I’m in favor of raising the gas tax 8 cents. That seems reasonable. 16 to 23 cents seems punitive, especially to lower-income folks, as has been stated above.

    Another notion to consider is that if you’re going to raise the gas tax substantially, you’d better be prepared to provide drivers a viable alternative - namely mass transit.

    The Chicago-area mass transit systems are lacking adequate coverage in many areas, not to mention having aging and outdated equipment. The system is straining to keep up with current demand.

    And, of course, you have rural and less populated areas with no viable alternatives to their cars.

    Couple the 8 cent hike with a tax on services, and now we’re onto something.

  43. - Bookworm - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 5:16 pm:

    CO, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all wake up one day to find that the last 10 years were just a “Pottersville”-style vision of an alternate reality in which Glenn Poshard didn’t get elected governor.

  44. - Skirmisher - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 6:21 pm:

    Someone has to pay for these roads, and it is the people who use them who need to quit bellyaching and pony up the money that is needed to do. You can’t just assume forever that the feds will do it with borrowed Chinese money. Illinois roadways are simply in an awful state of neglect and the General Assembly is years late in coming up with responsible revenues. Hope they follow through for a change.

  45. - South Side Mike - Friday, Feb 20, 09 @ 9:44 pm:

    Secret Square,

    I was not aware that the IL Constitution prohibited ad valorem taxes (other than real estate property taxes, I guess). However, to your question of wouldn’t taxes decrease over time, the answer is yes and no. For individuals, your tax would reduce over time as long as you did not purchase a newer or additional vehicle. For the State, however, the take would be relatively stable, fluctuating slightly depending on changes in the average length of time of car ownership.

  46. - Jughead - Sunday, Feb 22, 09 @ 12:23 am:

    Senator Martin Sandoval might have some problems in the future, He is supporting Larry Dominic for Mayor of Cicero even though a Hispanic Ex Police Officer is running, Cicero is about 80 percent Hispanic so besides selling out his people he is trying to give us a giant tax increase.

  47. - PalosParkBob - Sunday, Feb 22, 09 @ 9:51 am:

    This is just another case of “bait and switch”.

    Aren’t we already sweeping about $650 million per year from motor fuel tax funds to purposes other than road and bridge consruction and repair?

    Gee, if our infrastructure “needs” are so great and vital to the public interest, why don’t we repeal “Prevailing Wage” on non-Fed projects and create many more jobs and get more “necessary” work done for the same cost?

    This tax increase, and the others soon to be proposed, are for AVOIDING responsible fiscal reform, not promoting it!

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