Bill Fleischli

Gas station pump
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Former Republican congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made a pitch Monday for Illinois to raise its gas tax.

The Peoria native told a panel of lawmakers he would champion the tax hike even though his fellow Republicans may be opposed.

“I remember the days like many of you do when Illinois was a great state, when we had great infrastructure, when we were able to attract business to our state,” said LaHood, who headed the U.S. Department of Transportation under former President Barack Obama. “That’s what we want to get back to.”

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Public health advocates and some state lawmakers spurned Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s decision to veto a bill that would have raised the legal tobacco age to 21.

Rauner axed the bill last Friday, though his own Department of Public Health supported it. While he called smoking “detrimental” in his veto message, the governor said Illinois couldn’t take the risk of losing tobacco sales tax revenue to neighboring states.

Amanda Vinicky

  A coalition of Illinois gas station owners say they're wary of a plan to increase motor fuel taxes. Opponents say it would cause too much pain at the pump.

Engineers, the state Chamber of Commerce, and local mass transit agencies have a strategy to shore up the state's deteriorating highway network and other infrastructure needs: a strategy that includes raising Illinois' tax on gas, which hasn't seen an increase in 24 years.

For now, it's just a plan; no state lawmaker has committed to supporting that proposal.