Both bills would increase motor fuel tax, vehicle registration fees.
Two bills backed by two separate groups in the Illinois General Assembly are attempting to find a new way to fund repairs of the state's crumbling infrastructure. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)
By Kay Shipman
Illinois’ roads and bridges need to be fixed. However, two separate bills to fund a capital road construction plan are vying for the attention of legislators.
“In a rare statehouse situation, two bills backed by two separate groups are attempting to push Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the General Assembly to find a way to fund repairs of the state’s crumbling road infrastructure,” said Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation.
SB 103, sponsored by Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, Senate Transportation Committee chairman, is supported by the Operating Engineers Local 150 that represents heavy equipment operators in northeast Illinois. SB 103 proposes to increase the motor fuel tax by 19 cents, bringing the total motor fuel tax to 38 cents. In addition, the bill would increase multiple registration fees, including a $100 hike in truck registration fees in each weight class. Plus, the bill would increase electronic vehicle registration from $35 to $148.
A second option, HB 3823, is sponsored by Rep. Andre Thapedi, D-Chicago, and championed by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. HB 3823 proposes a gradual increase the motor fuel tax to 44 cents by 2024. Simultaneously, the proposal would decrease the state’s portion of the sales tax on motor fuel from 5 percent to zero, leaving the 1.25 percent sales tax for local governments. HB 3823 also would increase registration fees on antique vehicles and low-speed vehicles by $60 each and raise motorcycle registration fees from $95 to $145.
Apparently, the two bills were introduced to initiate discussion because some felt the issue was not a high enough priority, according to Semlow.
“Numerous legislators have put a large focus on the need for a capital program, and it was highlighted in the governor’s budget,” said Semlow. “All signs indicate a final road funding bill will be a priority during the final weeks of session.”
Many legislators agree that a motor fuel tax is their preferred method to fund new road capital projects. However, the debate will center around how much motor fuel tax and other licensing fees will increase, Semlow said. He noted both proposals are missing a key component -- a funding mechanism for other nonroad capital projects for improvements, repairs and new construction of vertical projects, such as buildings and water lines.
“IFB has been closely monitoring the motor fuel tax issue,” said IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. “During the past annual meeting, there was a lot of discussion, and our policy was changed from supporting an increase of up to 10 cents a gallon in the state motor fuel tax to supporting a moderate increase in the motor fuel tax.
“As a final legislative package is developed, we will consider the increases proposed for the motor fuel tax and other fees,” Guebert continued. “We need to repair and improve our infrastructure, but we will need to balance the benefits of those improvements against the negative impact of increases in the motor fuel tax or fees.”