State lawmaker introduces ‘mileage tax’ bill

By Cole Lauterbach
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — One Illinois lawmaker is again seeking a tax on each mile vehicle owners drive instead of a gas tax.

State Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago, introduced House Bill 2864 Thursday, which would create the per-mile road usage charge pilot program. Voluntary participants would pay a per-mile road usage charge of $0.021 per mile for metered use. This per-mile tax would replace the user’s 19-cent per gallon motor fuel tax. Illinois still applies its 6.25 percent sales tax to motor fuel, something only a handful of other states do.

If a participant in the program drives 12,000 miles, the cost would be $252 minus the rebate on motor fuel taxes.

The program would be restricted to 5,000 vehicles with further restrictions on how many vehicles of certain fuel consumption ratings could participate.

The plan has been introduced in previous years, but former Gov. Bruce Rauner had declared his opposition to it early on. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, however, has been warmer on the topic. He said on the campaign trail that it should be looked into as a way to pay for badly-needed infrastructure spending.

“In other states, I think in Oregon for example, that they’ve looked at, they’re testing to see if a vehicle mileage tax would work but, look, my view is that we’ve got to invest in infrastructure so we’ve got to find ways to pay for an infrastructure bill,” Pritzker said last year.

His office would not respond to questions about the legislation.

Reports have said the state needs to spend billions each year just to maintain its roads.

The plan has been widely criticized by central and southern Illinois officials whose residents would be disproportionately hit by a tax based on how many miles they travel.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, filed a similar proposal in 2016 that would have taxed drivers $0.0015 per mile using a metered device in passenger vehicles. The measure never progressed after opposition mounted.

Evans’ bill doesn’t mandate a metering device, rather leaves that decision largely up to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

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