State lawmakers discuss $2B gas tax proposal

By Greg Bishop
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — There’s a $2 billion gas tax increase on the table at the statehouse to pay for infrastructure projects, but some warn such a move will hurt lower-income families the hardest. There’s also an effort to give municipalities more ability to impose their own gas taxes.

State Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, said motorists should expect a push to double the state’s gas tax from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents heading into the home stretch of spring session. An amendment to Senate Bill 103 would also increase the annual vehicle registration fee by $50, and $130 more for electric vehicles.

A fact sheet from the International Union of Operating Engineers says those increases along with doubling the fee on drivers’ licenses and increasing truck registration fees by $100 would raise an additional $2 billion.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, said increasing the motor fuel tax will hit working families.

“That especially hurts lower-income folks who are just trying to make ends meet,” Sosnowski said.

Sandoval said a separate bill he expects to be heard next week in committee would allow for local governments to impose a gas tax on top of the state’s gas tax for local roads and infrastructure projects.

That measure, an amendment to Senate Bill 582, would allow non-home rule communities to impose their own motor fuel tax, but there are no caps.

“They have a better understanding of what’s important to them than perhaps what’s in Springfield,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said despite studies like a recent WalletHub report showing Illinois is already the highest taxed state in the nation, taxpayers should get on board with the idea.

“I believe that if we want to be a leader on our infrastructure as well as provide some relief to local communities in regards to some of their institutions, I think they would appreciate a capital bill that’s financed with newer forms of revenues,” Sandoval said.

Sosnowski said Illinoisans already pay some of the highest taxes in the country.

“We’re hearing a lot about more taxes and not about how do we save money,” Sosnowski said.

Sosnowski said state government could work to consolidate operations, end poorly performing grant programs and find other efficiencies, rather than just increasing taxes.

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