Bill would more than double state gas tax

Sandoval touts plan to raise $2.4 billion for road and bridge projects

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By JERRY NOWICKI

Capitol News Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – A bipartisan coalition laid out a plan on May 8 that would raise $2.4 billion for road and bridge infrastructure improvements by hiking the state's gas tax and a series of license fees.

State Sens. Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago) and Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) were joined by leaders from commerce, organized labor and the construction industry as they advocated for a 25-cent increase to the state's gasoline tax, which they say is needed to address years of neglect.

"We all agree and know that our state's infrastructure needs improvements through strategic, sustained, bold leadership and efficient planning," Sandoval said. "We haven't had a capital bill in 10 years. It's time to modernize our transportation funding formula to make it sustainable and consistent."

Sandoval, whose 11th District includes Riverside south of the Burlington Northern-santa Fe Railroad tracks, is sponsoring House Bill 3233, which would provide $2.4 billion in funding through increases to Illinois' motor fuel tax, vehicle registration fees, driver licensing fees and title certificate fees.

While DeWitte spoke in favor of a gas tax increase, he said he would advocate for a removal of the sales tax the state levies on motor fuel. Thanks to a 2016 "lock box" amendment to the Illinois Constitution, motor fuel taxes are mandated for use on road and bridge safety, while sales taxes are not.

DeWitte said he had not yet signed on as a co-sponsor to Sandoval's bill because it does not repeal the sales tax, but he said he supports the premise.

"These funding increases currently being debated in this legislature will provide a steady stream of funding for years to come," DeWitte said. "And they're guaranteed, most importantly for taxpayers, they are guaranteed to go where promised as they are strictly dedicated to transportation-related issues."

The bill calls for raising the motor fuel tax from 19 cents to 44 cents, which would generate an estimated $1.2 billion in revenue. The bill would also hike the tax on special fuels, which includes diesel and biodiesel, from 21.5 cents to 52 cents, bringing in an estimated $478 million. Those increases would be indexed to increase with the rate of inflation.

Sandoval said the motor fuel tax has not increased in Illinois since 1990, while 29 states have increased their fuel taxes since 2012.

Vehicle registration fees would go up as well, with passenger vehicles and class B trucks increasing to $148 from $98 and electric vehicles seeing a major spike to $1,000 from $17.50. Those rates would be indexed for inflation as well and would generate approximately $458 million in revenue.

Other truck registration fees would all increase by $100, raising about $30 million. Driver's license fees would all double as part of the plan as well, going from $30 to $60 for the original license in most cases. Certificates of title would increase from $95 to $155.

The bill also repeals a Commercial Distribution Fee on trucks and allows municipalities to impose a 3-cent motor fuel tax of their own if they also adopt an approved responsible bid ordinance.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce said it supports a different gas tax hike, House Bill 3823, which includes a provision to phase out the sales tax on motor fuel.

"While we don't take tax increases lightly, investing in our transportation system will help Illinois drivers who pay about $600 every year in increased maintenance costs due to major wear and tear on their vehicles from the poor condition of Illinois roads and bridges," Chamber President and CEO Todd Maisch said in a statement.

The Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and the Illinois Association of Convenience Stores issued a release opposing any increase to the gas tax, saying it would put stores on the state border at a disadvantage.

"Store owners as well as state and local governments will lose 8 to 10 percent of much-needed revenue, including revenue from products purchased other than gas, such as tobacco, food and beverages," Bill Fleischli, executive vice president, IPMA-IACS, said in a statement.

Reader Comments

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Todd Love  

Posted: May 18th, 2019 9:26 PM

Martin Sandoval is a bafoon, who needs to focase on the out of control violent crime in his district and leave the middle class in our state alone. Wow 1000.00 dollars every year to own and electric car? Don't these people already pay taxes on electricity? This is why so meany people are moving away from Illinois.

William Swart Ruting  

Posted: May 10th, 2019 4:44 PM

"...which would provide $2.4 billion in funding through increases to Illinois' motor fuel tax, vehicle registration fees, driver licensing fees and title certificate fees." But, instead of using the money to draw down the state's debt and be able to refinance existing debt at a lower cost, the "tax and spend" cRATs will use it for more pork-barrel projects.

Ed Sel  

Posted: May 10th, 2019 2:30 PM

The democrat party employs class-warfare every election cycle professing to be the champions of the poor and working-class. Once elected and having a stranglehold on Illinois government, it proposes some of the most regressive, punitive taxes available hurting the very people it claims to be fighting for, poor and working-class. Gas taxes in Illinois are already among the highest in the nation. The Chicago media needs to stop working for the democrat party and starting reporting facts in an honest manner. Same thing with the graduated income tax. Wait until democrats have this available as a taxing weapon. Anyone remember that temporary increase in the income tax a few years ago?

Tim Malas  

Posted: May 9th, 2019 1:21 PM

Tracy so very true on what you said. What the heck is this state doing. Where is the money we pay in taxes, toll booth $$ and all. This is unreal and WOW $1,000 fee now for owning a electric car and if this is every year from now on well for any car amount who can afford driving a car in IL or even live here. There has be a better way for $$$$ maybe politicians can lower 100k plus year salary???

Tracy Kamba from McCook  

Posted: May 9th, 2019 12:20 PM

When will IL finally start accepting our REAL problems of too many government institutions. We are paying salaries and retirement benefits. We are a medium size state but yet we have the most government institutions. When does it stop!

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