CHICAGO - Gas prices throughout Illinois vary up to $1.40 a gallon Sunday, according to GasBuddy.com. From $3.19 in Dixon to $4.59 in Chicago - car owners are paying some of the highest prices in the nation. But what Illinois drivers pay now isn't enough, so says Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Doug Whitley.
In a Southtown opinion piece Sunday, Whitley says that Illinois' roads and infrastructure are headed for dire conditions and all the road funds lawmakers have been accruing from gas tax charges haven't been enough to keep the roads in shape, or have been spent on other state government demands. So, Whitley calls for a sales tax increase of $.13. When the cost of gas inflates, so will the sales tax amount Illinoisans pay for gas, and the more that will go into the road fund.
Illinois sales tax on gas is based on the per gallon cost so when the cost of gas hikes, so does the amount drivers pay in taxes - a double whammy on the cost of driving to work, taking the kids to school and visiting grandma. A sales tax increase will hit any family's budget - especially those that struggle to make ends meet running between two part-time jobs, as so many breadwinners are doing these days.
But Mr. Whitley, who also co-chairs the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, says paying more at Illinois pumps is a necessity to keep Illinois the hub of the nation's transportation system:
In May, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition supported legislation that would eliminate and replace the current flat-rate motor fuel tax of 19 cents per gallon with a 9.5 percent tax on the wholesale price of fuel. This legislation was modeled off a similar law that Virginia approved this year under a Republican governor.
In Illinois, the estimated extra revenue from 13 cents more a gallon will ensure that as gasoline prices rise and inflation grows, so does the amount we invest into transportation. It also provides a revenue stream to shrink the gap between infrastructure needs and the revenue available to meet them.
Whitley's weather balloon op-ed and State Senator Kirk Dillard's recent comment that he supports the idea indicates the idea is seriously being considered in the state legislature, and could come up in the fall veto session.