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Another Republican talks about a gas tax hike

Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

A leading state Senate Republican says expanded gambling in Illinois could pay off existing capital construction projects, but there would still need to be a gas tax increase for future ones. […]

But Syverson said a future capital plan may require a gas tax increase because, he says, people are driving less and vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient.

“It may make sense to be looking at a small gas tax increase, something maybe as little as five cents,” Syverson said. “But if the feds do a capital program then we could be matching those dollars.” […]

Illinoisans currently pay the 18th-highest gas taxes in the nation. But because Illinois is one of only seven U.S. states that applies a sales tax on gas, that ranking fluctuates significantly depending on the actual price of gas. When gas prices were closer to $4 a gallon a few years ago, Illinoisans paid the third-highest gas taxes in the nation.

* Chuck Sweeny also talked to Syverson

In 2007, the gross revenue from the state’s 19 cents-per-gallon motor fuel tax was $1.49 billion. By 2016, the amount had fallen to $1.27 billion. That downward trend will continue.

Meanwhile, since 1993 the federal motor fuel tax has been 18.4 cents per gallon. Inflation has risen nearly 70 percent since then, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator.

How do we continue to repair and rebuild roads given that the cost of the state’s backlog of deferred maintenance is about $1 billion, construction costs are increasing and revenue is declining?

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, says we will have to face the music and consider raising the motor fuel tax. He suggests an increase of 5 cents per gallon, although road construction folks say much more than that is required.

“More than that isn’t going to get a favorable response” in today’s political environment, Syverson said.

“Indiana just raised their motor fuel tax 10 cents, and a penny each year after that for the next several years, something we should have done years ago,” Syverson said. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the national average of state motor fuel taxes is about 28 cents a gallon.

The governor has said he opposes a gas tax hike, so I’m not sure where he’s going with this. And notice that you aren’t yet seeing Democrats get out in front of this idea.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - SammyG - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 10:47 am:

    I’m sure this has been discussed before, but instead of maintaining the “x cents per gallon” tax, why not change it to a percentage of the sale. That way when gas prices go up, so do revenues.


  2. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    Republicans are starting to flash their polling bling.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 10:52 am:

    ===Republicans are starting to flash their polling bling===

    How so?

    The Rauner gameplan is to run against the income tax, but the bling allows a discussion on a gas tax?


  4. - Grand Avenue - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    I’ve got a great idea - let’s tax pop one cent an ounce to fund road construction. I hear it polls great!


  5. - My thoughts - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 11:17 am:

    SammyG - Illinois already imposes a sales tax on the price of gasoline along with the tax of X cents per gallon.


  6. - City Zen - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    ==instead of maintaining the “x cents per gallon” tax, why not change it to a percentage of the sale==

    Because then funding is even more dependent on market fluctuations. Plus, as gas prices rise, the impact becomes exponential when price really has nothing to do with the amount of wear and tear on roads.

    A smart politician could build a compelling story explaining the need for a higher tax irrespective of inflation. Use real world examples (like 1993 Explorer vs 2017 Explorer), cite vehicle weight, etc.


  7. - A guy - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 11:20 am:

    If there’s a forgivable and forgettable tax, it’s on gas. The price changes daily, so it gets lost more than most. If there’s a capital improvement nearby, it’s even more forgivable. It’s also collectible immediately and it adds up quickly.
    I hate taxes, but this one has a more cause and effect outcome with a quick result.


  8. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 11:33 am:

    I would also tax tires and vehicle maintenance. At least good roads reduce tire damage and vehicle maintenance.


  9. - Ihatepolitics - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 11:44 am:

    LBM, tires are taxed on the retail price and a fee of $2.50 is tacked on to every one sold


  10. - SAP - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    The Preckwinkle Pop-Tax Peccadillo is going to make it tough to increase any tax.


  11. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    I just wish some of these chicken….. would talk about gas tax on farm equipment. Even if its just a partial.

    Why dont some of these states start demanding a federal sales tax on internet sales. Its the only thing i agree with Bloomberg on.


  12. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    Sorry willy, got busy at work. I think the Republicans have polling info on capital bill and projects. I think it could divide construction workers, and energize them about more work. I don’t think Republicans would come out in favor if it wasn’t poll tested.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    - 360 Degree TurnAround -

    No worries, all good.

    Prevailing wage?

    You think any labor, including Operating Engineers will agree to working with this governor and the prevailing wage not a part of the deal?

    Polling or not, who can Rauner see helping him with this?

    === I think it could divide construction workers, and energize them about more work.===

    Tough sell at this point, I’m guessing, unless … like I said, prevailing wages.


  14. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 12:38 pm:

    I don’t think this will get done in the next year or so. I just think the Republicans know what they are doing. No one has said they won’t pay prevailing wage. Nice thing about gas tax is you can always blame energy companies or gas stations.


  15. - David S - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 1:19 pm:

    Here’s an idea … instead of trying to create more nickle and dime type taxes that would yet again disproportionately negatively affect those of us who make LESS than $60k per year (and that’s most of us) how about instead amend the Illinois Constitution to allow for a progressive tax rate on high wealth and incomes? Because the current regressive flat tax is allowing the roughly 270,000 millionaires and billionaires to not pay their fair share of the income tax burden. I realize there are other issues involved here, but as far as needed revenue goes. This would be a good place to start. Right along with the full legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana sales that would likely bring in close to a billion or more in revenue every single year.


  16. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 1:35 pm:

    A progressive way of funding roads would be a variable annual registration fee based on value of the vehicle. Captures electrics, the rich pay more than the poor, etc. Several sun belt states do it already. A mileage based tax is too far away for widespread adoption. Bob Rohrman and the Long Chevrolet Kid would roar about it, though.


  17. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 2:14 pm:

    @Blue Dog Dem

    —I just wish some of these chicken….. would talk about gas tax on farm equipment. Even if its just a partial. —

    They don’t tax fuel, it’s diesel by the way not gas, because tractors and combines are off road vehicles. Really no reason to ask them to pay fuel tax when the overwhelming majority of time spent in farm equipment is in a field and fuel taxes go to road improvement.


  18. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    Cool papa. Tens of thousands of grain trucks/ day use our roads to transport their product. Grain.


  19. - Boat captain - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 2:51 pm:

    Diesel for road use is taxed. Diesel fuel for off road doesn’t have the road tax on it. The are differentiated by its color. If you get caught using off road fuel in your vehicle I believe it is a 10k fine. The officials can probe your diesel tank any time to determine whether you are or have used off road fuel in your vehicle.


  20. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 3:21 pm:

    Boat capt. You are correct. Technically and legally.


  21. - anon2 - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 7:27 pm:

    I second the motion for a variable annual registration fee based upon the value of the vehicle. Otherwise, the gas tax is undeniably regressive. And we know about the pop tax opponents feel about regressive taxes.


  22. - mudd - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 7:52 pm:

    How about no new taxes on anything and spend our money wisely instead of ripping us off?


  23. - theCardinal - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 9:57 pm:

    Use the Cali method of taxing the vehicle plates based on its value. The cost of your tags goes down annually and flattens out and its gets those nasty e vehicles to pay their share too.


  24. - cannon649 - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 10:41 pm:

    Taxing the vehicle on its value is far has to come. I would think it should be included in the plates and as well in the vehicle stickers. I can also see charges for parking permits based on the area,

    Fuel is one thing but the having the vehicle taking up scarce space in revenue strapped areas/states would seem to be easy call.


  25. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Sep 26, 17 @ 11:10 pm:

    You guys got it. To me farm equipment are tractors and combines. A semi is just that. Very few farmers are willing to use dyed fuel on the road. ISP has mobile scales all over the place at harvest and they do a very through job of inspections including “dipping” tanks. It’s also a popular pass time at county fairs. Anyway many farms have two tanks to fill up on. 1 on road and 1 off.

    Little known fact you can get your fuel tax rebated to you on say the gas you put in your mower. It’s a decent amount if say you cut lawns all summer.

    And FYI agree - we need a federal sales tax on Internet purchases or raise the state tax a few more precent to something close 8.


  26. - Earl Richards - Wednesday, Sep 27, 17 @ 8:06 am:

    To avoid the Texas/Big oil gasoline price rip-off, plug your Tesla Model 3, electric car into your household, solar array.


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