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LaHood favors raising gas tax for infrastructure

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2019

* I’m not sure that LaHood’s testimony convinced a single legislator to vote for doubling the Motor Fuel Tax, or that Barack Obama’s Secretary of Transportation cooled out any Republicans, but whatevs, he was in town so that’s news

Former Republican congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday that Illinois lawmakers need to hike the state’s motor fuel tax, but they’ll also need to convince some residents that they will spend the new revenue wisely. […]

“Illinois is one big pothole right now,” he said. “If the General Assembly raised the gas tax and fixed up the roads and bridges, people would be very happy.”

While the state needs to raise the gas tax, LaHood said he worried that lawmakers would have to convince Illinois residents who already shoulder one of the nation’s highest motor fuel taxes to trust them with spending the new revenue responsibly.

“The money has to be spent on roads and bridges. You can’t defer this money to pay for state police salaries or to pay for other things related to road safety or whatever,” he said.

* Also, lemme know when Quincy Republicans Rep. Randy Frese and Sen. Jil Tracy are ready to double the MFT

LaHood and Tom Oakley, a former newspaper publisher in Quincy, told the committee they would help lobby for an infrastructure bill when the legislature heads back to Springfield for the final legislative push Tuesday.

“What you have today, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, are two Republicans from downstate Illinois who are promoting to fix up our infrastructure and raise the gas tax to do it,” LaHood said.

LaHood’s testimony was followed by eight panels of speakers requesting added infrastructure spending that would benefit their varying organizations, businesses, agencies and boards. Those representatives were from transportation agencies, port authorities, higher education institutions, environmental organizations, pedestrian and bicycling advocates and other groups.

Mary Sue Barrett of the Metropolitan Planning Council — an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on regional growth — said those debating infrastructure spending often ask the wrong questions.

“First, we have to ask what’s the cost of inaction,” she said.

But, hey, so far it’s the only funding plan on the table and it’s strongly backed by Local 150 and has the support of the Illinois Chamber (albeit coupled with the phase-out of the sales tax on fuel). Even Senate GOP Leader Bill Brady wants to use MFT money. So, who the heck knows what will happen?

It would be helpful if the governor picked a lane, however.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    I support a doubling of the gas tax.

    If we want things, we have to pay for things.

    Roads and infrastructure seem like something we should all want to pay for, especially the people who use those things.

    Raise the tax, and not only will it improve infrastructure, it will motivate the people who want something for nothing to move somewhere else. That has a long-term benefit that I think is being grossly overlooked in these types of discussions.

  2. - Bourbon Street - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    It’s hard to pick a lane until you know which one has the least amount of potholes.

  3. - Not a Billionaire - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    Oakley wants more projects. Looks like we will be seeing cancellations instead.

  4. - Jimmy - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    I could be wrong, time has not been good for my memory but it seems I remember a few years ago a bill passed allowing the road fund money to be taken out and used for other things. Help me out someone that remembers better. If this is true how can anyone be sure the raise in gas tax will go to the roads? And if they cannot guarantee the money raised stays in the road fund I don’t want to hear about a raise in the gas tax.

  5. - Blake - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    Jimmy, there was a constitutional amendment that passed in 2016 that guarantees the money raised stays in the Motor Fuel Tax Fund.

  6. - A Jack - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 11:18 am:

    Republicans in favor of increasing regressive taxes, while fighting progressive taxes. No surprise there. The Republicans may as well give up saying they are working for middle-class families.

    I would only agree to a gas tax increase if the progressive income tax passes. That would be my bargaining chip.

  7. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 1:23 pm:

    ==Illinois is not a pot hole.It is SINK HOLE.==

    With pot.(Hopefully).

  8. - Nanker Phelge - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    I am in favor of a modest increase in the gas tax, but would like to see the sales tax on gas go into the Road Fund, not GRF. I also want drivers of electric cars and hybrid electric cars to pay larger registration fees and the extra go into the Road Fund.

  9. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    My bet is that the governor picks the reversible lane…so that he can walk (drive?) back a tax increase proposal if it proves untenable.

  10. - Jaxon - Tuesday, Apr 30, 19 @ 8:34 pm:

    He must have got Trumps permission or he would not have done so .

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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