gas tax

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly ended its spring legislative session last weekend, passing what some are calling the most productive session in a generation.

House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks to his colleagues and Gov. J.B. Pritzker on the last day of the 2019 legislative session
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinoisans will soon pay more for gasoline and cigarettes. Those are just two tax increases needed to pay for a $45 billion infrastructure plan, which includes money from sports betting and additional casinos.

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Brian Mackey

Note: The show was taped during the noon hour on Friday, while debate and negotiations at the Statehouse were still ongoing.

On the final day of the Regular Legislative Session, lawmakers continued to work on finalizing the state budget, along with votes still to come on a constitutional amendment to switch Illinois to a graduated income tax, legalization of marijuana, expansion of gambling, and abortion legislation.  WTTW's Amanda Vinicky joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois gets an April surprise — $1.5 billion in unexpected revenue — as lawmakers debate what the windfall means. The public also got its first look at the long-anticipated language in a proposal that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Meanwhile, an audit found that child abuse and neglect investigations suffered during the budget impasse of 2015-17, and lawmakers advanced legislation that would more than double the gas tax in order to pay for infrastructure building and repair.

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Brian Mackey

Even though it’s the legislative spring break, there are several issues still to be negotiated, including a potential construction program funded with a gasoline tax, legalization of recreational marijuna, dealing with the state’s growing pension debt, and what to do about a declining population.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

While gas prices fluctuate, one charge at the pump has stayed the same since 1990. Illinoisans have paid the same gas tax – the charge per gallon the state collects. But that could soon change.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he tried to get out of his doomed re-election bid. In an interview with Craig Wall of WLS-TV, Chicago's ABC station, he says he tried and failed to recruit other people to take his place on the ballot.

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A proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would protect money set aside for transportation projects. Supporters say the change is needed because money that's supposed to be earmarked for building roads has gone to other expenses over the years. But the amendment could allow some of those practices to continue, while endangering other popular programs. 

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Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Portions of the gas tax collected when you fuel your car is supposed to go to municipalities, for road repairs like filling potholes, or for buying salt needed when it snows.

Instead, that money is trapped in the budget stalemate.

Statewide, $57  million in gas tax has been collected since July.   The measure at the Capitol would authorize releasing $146 million for costs through Sept. 30.

Macomb Mayor Michael Inman says the money is needed.

Amanda Vinicky

Gas station owners are worried that lawmakers will pass an increase to the motor fuel tax to bring in more revenue.

David Smith owns gas stations along the Illinois border. He says Illinois' higher taxes cause most drivers to fill up outside of the state.

"At one of our Missouri stations near the border of Missouri and Illinois, we sell for example 170,000 gallons of gas per month," Smith said. "However at our Illinois-based border station just a few miles away on the Illinois side, we only sell about 70,000 gallons per month."

The need for infrastructure investments across the country is great and has been in the news a lot lately. The American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that the country will need to spend $3.6 trillion by 2020. The same group gave the country's infrastructure a D+ rating for 2013. Illinois got a C-.

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Don Fullerton is associate director of IGPA for Urbana-Champaign and a member of the IGPA faculty. He is an expert on tax policy, energy and environmental policy issues. Julian Reif is an expert in health economics and policy.

They wrote the following op-ed.

Last year, the Panzier Lane bridge in Jefferson County collapsed while a truck was driving over it. The driver was unharmed, but as reconstruction began last month, officials estimated it will cost more than half a million dollars to repair.

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  Infrastructure in Illinois is getting dangerously close to disrepair, according to a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The state received a "C-" for its maintenance of roads, bridges and waterways.

The group says Illinois' grade is cause for concern, especially given recent infrastructure failures. Those headlines include last weekend's water crisis in Toledo, Ohio and chemical pollutants in West Virginia water earlier this year.

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.

Amanda Vinicky

  Illinois will invest another eight point six billion dollars into roads, bridges and other projects. It's the latest installment of a major infrastructure plan lawmakers passed in 2010. Now, Governor Pat Quinn is calling for a new one. But he's not saying where the money should come from.

The 2010 infrastructure program - known as Illinois Jobs Now! - has funded thousands of miles of road repairs so far -- paid for by higher taxes on alcohol, candy and soft drinks; a higher license plate fee; and revenue from video poker.

  Advocates for infrastructure investment want to raise the gas tax to fix Illinois roads. The new revenue would go toward maintenance which they say is long overdue.