SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — Illinoisans already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation, including high taxes at the pump.
Illinois state Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) wants Illinoisans to pay higher gas taxes to fund public construction across the state.
Brady didn’t specify exactly how much in new taxes he wants. But he thinks “that [a gas tax increase] may absolutely be where we can come together. Whether that’s a five percent increase, I don’t know. That’s going to be the ultimate debate.”
Illinoisans already pay some of the highest gas taxes in the nation. In 2011, Illinoisans paid the third-highest combined local, state and federal gas taxes in the nation, according to the American Petroleum Institute. As of July 2017, Illinoisans pay the 18th-highest gas taxes in the nation. That variability is due to the fact that Illinois is one of only seven states that also applies a sales tax to gasoline purchases – on top of state and local motor fuel taxes. Thus, as gas prices go up, so do the gas taxes Illinoisans pay.
While there are no specifics on how much higher lawmakers might raise taxes, a 2016 proposal by the Metropolitan Planning Council, or MPC, suggested $43 billion in total spending on Illinois’ transportation network over the next decade. To fund that spending, MPC wants Illinoisans to pay nearly $3 billion in new taxes and fees each year – equivalent to a $0.30 per gallon increase in state motor fuel taxes and a 50 percent increase in vehicle registration fees.
As with the state’s record-breaking income tax hike, the push to raise gasoline taxes ignores the fact that Illinoisans are already burdened with the fifth-highest state and local tax burden, including the highest property taxes in the nation.
Chicagoans have been particularly hard-hit by their politicians’ tax-hiking sprees. Windy City residents have faced record property tax increases, new garbage collection fees, sales tax hikes and new sweetened beverage taxes over the past few years. And the state education funding bill that passed in August will likely result in another $150 million property tax increase on Chicagoans.
There’s no doubt that parts of Illinois’ infrastructure need significant upgrades, but relying on increased taxes and fees to fund those upgrades may only serve to drive more people out of Illinois. Overburdened Illinoisans are already leaving the state in record numbers because lawmakers continue to pass ever-higher bills on to taxpayers.
Lawmakers have lost the right to impose yet another burden on taxpayers. Politicians have yet to fix the pension crisis, pass a truly balanced budget, reduce property tax burdens or remove burdensome costs on job creators.
A capital plan is imperative to making Illinois more competitive, but any plan should balance the cost of improvements with the burdens Illinoisans already face.
That’s why structural reforms are needed to bring the cost of government in line with what taxpayers can afford.