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Increase in state gasoline tax could be considered to fund capital infrastructure bill

SPRINGFIELD – A capital bill may be on the horizon for Illinois, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker calling for action on one in this legislative session.

Legislators are supportive, but how it will be paid for is unknown.

“There’s a universal understanding that infrastructure is crumbling across the state – our roads and bridges, our water infrastructure. We need to invest in it,” Pritzker said in an interview prior to being sworn-in. “We’re the supply chain hub of America and in order to maintain that status, in order to create jobs, we have to continue to invest in our infrastructure.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called for a 20-to 30-cent per gallon increase in the state gas tax, up from 19 cents per gallon, in order to pay for a statewide transportation plan.

That’s in addition to an 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax, which hasn’t changed since 1993.

Pritzker said he hasn’t decided on where he would stand on an increase in the gas tax.

“I don’t know, I don’t like regressive taxes much, that’s why I proposed a fair tax system for the state,” Pritzker said. “I don’t want to rely too much on regressive taxes, that’s why I’m looking for all the opportunities to piece together the revenue that would be required for an infrastructure bill.”

State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, said he would be in favor of increasing a sticker fee for electric vehicles. In the state, electric vehicles, which wouldn’t be contributing to the gas tax coffers, have lower registration fees than traditional passenger vehicles.

“Electric cars aren’t paying anything for the gas tax,” Meier said. “They’re not paying anything to use our roads and they’re getting cheaper license plates and they’re using the same amount of roads we are.”

Having a capital bill may help in bringing federal dollars back to Illinois, said U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois.

“There have been federal dollars available to be spent for Illinois, but could not be because Illinois did not have a budget, and did not come up with our 30 percent of the match, so we lost out on 70 percent of the funding the federal government was willing to put forward, and that’s on infrastructure,” Duckworth said.


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