2019 Capital Plan:
WHY DID WE NEED A GAS TAX INCREASE?
Our roads, bridges and transit systems are in historically poor condition. Because we have not raised the gas tax in nearly 30 years, and because the price of fixing our infrastructure grows every year, we now have a huge backlog of transportation needing attention. Every pothole, every delay in traffic, every dangerous roadway and accident is a constant reminder of that.
We will consider other revenues in the future, but now, the gas tax is the best solution. It’s predictable, sustainable and a direct user fee that comes from our system (and ensures out-of-state drivers are paying their fair share for using our system). Thanks to the lockbox amendment, we will keep every dollar we collect to fix our roads.
DID IT REALLY NEED TO DOUBLE?
Yes. Had we simply increased it in small ways over the past 30 years – like the food and cars and other products we buy – we would be paying this much today. And we are ensuring by tying it to inflation, and by shifting the sales tax on gas over time back to transportation funding, that we will never face such a significant shortfall in our transportation support again.
And keep in mind, while doubling the gas tax sounds painful, it’s real impact is reasonable at the pump. The average driver will pay less than $20 a month more – less than a cup of coffee a day, and far less than we pay for cable or our cell phones. Often, we won’t even notice the increase when the price of gas fluctuates by 20 cents or more every few weeks. And every time we fill up, we’ll know that we’re putting our dollars directly into safer, better travel.
WON’T GOVERNMENT JUST WASTE THIS MONEY LIKE IT DOES EVERYTHING ELSE?
We are fixing the mistakes of the past by locking up these funds through constitutional protection, and putting the dollars you pay at the pump into transportation. One of government’s core functions – on which Democrats and Republicans agree – is to ensure safe, effective travel to promote commerce, tourism and day-to-day life. We are embracing this responsibility after too many years of putting it off.
WHY COULDN’T WE JUST WAIT TO ADDRESS THIS WHEN THE STATE IS IN BETTER FINANCIAL CONDITION?
Our transportation challenges are monumental. We have thousands of miles and billions of dollars of needs waiting, and every day we wait to address them, the cost ticks up – like our state pension debt and national debt. We are taking an important step here to responsibly address the problem and save all of us more costs, hassle and danger.
The other reality is our state will never get back on track with a broken transportation system. Businesses need smooth, safe roads and bridges, and reliable transit to deliver their goods and services down the street and around the world. Residents want to live where their children can get to school safely and on time, and they can move around freely without worrying about the next flat tire or broken rim. Investing in our infrastructure is the necessary investment in a better Illinois.
The Transportation for Illinois Coalition has compiled a detailed set of documents explaining the transportation challenges and best solutions, through the It’s Time 2019 campaign. Read more here: