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Pritzker: Higher Gas Tax Is An "Investment"

Michael Kappel via Flikr

If you’re driving this holiday weekend, you’ll be paying more to fill up your tank in Illinois.  A 19 cent per gallon gas tax increase went into effect this week. But Governor J.B. Pritzker claims the money is an investment.

The governor argues there are plenty of good reasons to pay more at the pump. For starters, the gas tax increase is helping to pay for Illinois’ $45 billion dollar statewide infrastructure plan, as well as supporting the construction workers needed to complete the projects listed in that plan.

“We’re putting a lot of people to work. We’re also attracting jobs from businesses that will want to be here because of the upgraded infrastructure that we’ll have all across the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said at a press appearance in Chicago.

So too have drivers had to spend hundreds of dollars on average to repair their cars while roads across the state have been in poor condition.

“And additionally, [they've experienced] depreciation on their vehicle every single year as a result of the potholes and the bridges that are in disrepair," Pritzker said. "We’re asking people to, on a fraction of that basis, to help us invest so that they can save money.”

The additional gas tax money is protected by the transportation lockbox amendment that Illinois voters approved in 2016. It states any transportation money must be spent on related needs, like construction and “betterment” of everything from public highways to airports.

The gas tax hasn’t been raised since the early 1990s, and is now indexed to inflation, meaning the tax will rise as the rest of the economy does over time.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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