Opinions differ on raising state's gas tax
Lawmakers were urged this week to raise the gas tax in Illinois to help fund a proposed capital bill for the state and fix deteriorating roads and bridges.
Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke to the Senate Subcommittee on Capital & Transportation Monday about the proposed capital bill.
"If the General Assembly raised the gas tax to fix roads and bridges, people will be happy," LaHood said. "People complain about raising taxes if it won't go to the roads. If they know it's going to the roads, they will be for it."
LaHood said fixing the roads would send a message that Illinois is back to business putting people to work, building roads and bridges and attracting people to the state.
Many have voiced concern with a rise in the gas tax, citing that Illinois already pays some of the highest taxes in the nation. Illinois Policy Institute pointed out that if the tax was doubled, as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel suggested in December, Illinois would have the highest gas tax in the nation and the average motorist would pay between $130 and $200 more each year on gas alone.
LaHood said he thinks 10 cents per gallon is a good place to start.
"The suggestion to tax vehicle miles traveled will not cut it," LaHood said. "People are sick and tired of potholes and driving over bridges that they are unsure about. The money has to be spent on roads and bridges. You can’t defer this money to pay for state police salaries or to pay for other things related to road safety or whatever."