Nothing 'green' about state's transportation plan except the fee hikes, Heartland director says
The Heartland Institute's George Jamerson deems Illinois lawmakers’ rationale behind seeking to raise the gas tax and vehicle registration fees as flawed through and through.
“The state shouldn’t be trying to raise gas taxes in the first place because as more people turn to electric vehicles, those hit with the tax would be low-income families still driving older vehicles," the organization's director of government relations told Prairie State Wire. “The whole idea of a gas tax is bad, and an EV (electric vehicles) tax would be punitive for consumers.”
Lawmakers in Springfield have proposed raising the annual registration fee for electric vehicles nearly 60 times over, or from current rates of $17.50 to $1,000, as part of an overall plan to kickstart funding for road and infrastructure improvements across the state. The same bill would also double the state’s gas tax to 44 cents per gallon and hike the registration fee for standard vehicles by nearly one-third to $148.
While the EV registration fee increase would not apply to hybrids and plug-in electric hybrids, supporters of the legislation have defended the massive tax levy on EVs by pointing out such vehicles would not be subject to any gas tax hikes. In filing the legislation, Democratic Sen. Martin Sandoval (Chicago) estimated that the tax would mean upwards of $2 billion in annual transportation funding.
Again, Jamerson argues that the harsh reality of the situation is much more complicated.
“Any time you have a fee on something, it’s like you’re almost trying to disincentivize people from using it,” he said. “I don’t think you want to do that for people that don’t use as much gas and produce a lot less pollution.”
National EV sales topped 200,000 vehicles in 2018, accounting for roughly 2 percent of total U.S. auto sales, according to the Chicago Tribune. Illinois ranked seventh in sales at 6,400 vehicles.
As recently as April, the Tribune reported there were nearly 15,000 electric vehicles registered in the state, with projections forecasting there could be a significant uptick soon as manufacturers ramp up production and consumers more readily embrace the concept.