Illinois lawmakers say they’re ready to move ahead with a major road construction program. It would mean tax and fee increases on gasoline, license plates and driver’s licenses.
It’s been a decade since Illinois had what’s known as a capital plan. State Sen. Martin Sandoval, a Democrat from Chicago, says it’s overdue.
“Capital bills in Springfield are like the second coming of the cicadas — every 10 years — and that’s not the way to go in regards to funding our infrastructure,” Sandoval said Wednesday at a news conference.
The latest plan, released Wednesday, is an update from one introduced in March. With new rates and fees increases, it’s supposed to end the boom-and-bust cycle by tapping a $2.4 billion stream of money that should be there year after year.
“This is a transformational model,” Sandoval said. “And hopefully when we get done with passing this sustainable capital bill, we won’t have to have another press conference like this 10 years from now.”
The money would come primarily from more than doubling the gas tax — from its current 19 cents a gallon to 44 cents a gallon. Fees for driver's licenses would also double.
On top of that, the cost of license plates would go up, too, increasing from $98 to $148 for most vehicles.
Owners of electric vehicles would be even harder hit: the current annual registration fee is $17.50; the new fee would be $1,000, every year.
All of that — from the gas tax to the license and registration fees — would be indexed to inflation, so it would likely continue to rise over time.
The concept of infrastructure spending is a rare area of bipartisan agreement, and state Sen. Donald DeWitte, of St. Charles, attended a news conference with Sandoval and representatives of labor and the construction industry. But he says he was just there as a gesture of bipartisanship; Republicans and business interests say they still need to work out details before they’ll get on board.
Among the remaining sticking points are what to do about the separate sales tax on gasoline. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has said it would support a higher gas tax if the sales tax was eliminated.
Also of interest to Republicans is so-called vertical construction — buildings — as opposed to just horizontal — roads and bridges. The proposal introduced Wednesday focused exclusively on horizontal construction, but schools, universities and hospitals say the need for vertical capital spending is just as great.
The legislation is House Bill 3233.