SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — Illinois state Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) joins state Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) in supporting an increase in the state’s gas tax.
“It may make sense to be looking at a small gas tax increase, something maybe as little as five cents,” Syverson said. Syverson is echoing his House Republican colleague Dan Brady, who said “[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.”
This gas tax hike would be intended to improve Illinois’ infrastructure as part of a capital plan. The size of the gas tax hike lawmakers will settle on is unclear, but a 2016 proposal by the Metropolitan Planning Council, or MPC, suggested $43 billion in total spending on Illinois’ transportation network over the next decade, which MPC says would require nearly $3 billion in new taxes and fees each year.
What Syverson, Brady and likely other lawmakers in Springfield are missing is 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.
And this is on top of all the other taxes Illinoisans face, which contribute to the state’s high tax burden. Illinoisans, who have already been paying some of the nation’s highest property taxes, were just saddled this year with a record-breaking income tax hike. In the Chicago area, taxpayers also pay the nation’s highest sales tax, a new sweetened beverage tax and a wide range of other taxes and fees.
Asking more out of overburdened taxpayers is not the way forward for the state. With Illinoisans already fleeing the state in droves, lawmakers should instead look at reforms to fix the state’s structural problems and lessen the high tax burden residents face.