Illinois gas tax: After years of penny-pinching, it’s time to refuel our transit system

Chicago claims to be the transportation capital of the Midwest. However the ever-dwindling funding Illinois makes in its roads, bridges, buses and trains is one thing you’d look forward to finding in a sluggish-shifting backwater.

After many years of neglect, Illinois should do something major a few transportation system that is more and more antiquated and in disrepair, creating a drag on the whole state’s financial system.

Now, with a new governor set to take office in January and a better sense of priorities, that would occur.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a gaggle of suburban mayors and regional planners have been on the right track Tuesday once they proposed boosting the state’s gasoline tax by up to 30 cents a gallon to fix roads and enhance mass transit. No one likes larger taxes, but the state’s 19-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax hasn’t been raised since 1990, which suggests it produces about half the revenues in real dollars that it did then.

Gross sales taxes, which are also levied on gasoline purchases, go into state and local basic funds and aren’t essentially spent on transportation.


The results of this miserliness are all over the place. Visitors jams are widespread on roads where crucial improvements stay on drawing boards. Primary CTA upgrades stay on the again burner, although a $2.1 billion federally funded modernization of the Purple and Purple strains stays on monitor. More than half of Metra’s bridges are greater than one hundred years previous, and a few are nonetheless product of timber. Creaky railroad alerts and locomotives which are in use gone their sell-by dates cause frequent delays.

“We’ve tried the strategy of starving the transportation system of further assets,” Emanuel advised the Solar-Occasions Editorial Board on Wednesday. “In the event you assume that’s an excellent thing to do — the identical factor we’ve got been doing … then you’ll be able to advocate for it.”

Since 1990, Illinois has “tried virtually every other source to avoid a fuel tax improve, they usually’ve sort of run out of choices,” stated Stephen Schlickman, former director City Transportation Middle.

The only actual answer would seem to be a hike within the fuel tax, unpopular as that’s positive to be, creating a gentle stream of latest revenue devoted solely to our state’s transportation needs.

For many who fear the gasoline tax is regressive — extra of a burden on lower revenue people than on the wealthy — it is perhaps extra palatable to them if linked to a rise in the minimal wage.

As Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), A progressive Democrat who is operating for metropolis treasurer, stated during a separate assembly with us on Wednesday: “If it’s tied to a dwelling wage or … a $15 minimum wage, that’s a good way to start out.”

Jacky Grimshaw, vice chairman for presidency affairs at the Middle for Neighborhood Know-how, also supports linking the gasoline tax improve to a boost within the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“If we create elevated costs for individuals, we ought to offer the power for individuals to be able to afford it,” Grimshaw stated…

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