Group to propose new motor fuel fees in May

CHAMPAIGN — Facing dwindling revenue from the state gasoline tax, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition will propose new motor fuel fees in May, an official with the group said Monday.

Among the possibilities being considered, said Jennifer Morrison, managing director of the coalition, are a surcharge on electric and hybrid vehicles and moving away from a per-gallon tax (now 19 cents a gallon) to a percentage-based tax that would bring in more money as the price of fuel increases. Morrison's organization is a coalition of business, labor and transit groups interested in transportation funding issues.

Gov. Pat Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now program is winding down, Morrison said, and the motor fuel tax, which funds state and local road projects, "is stagnant and declining, and at the same time, there is a dramatic increase in the cost of construction. That terrible dynamic (causes) ... the incredibly diminished purchasing power of the motor fuel tax.

"Obviously, that's not sustainable going forward. Cars are going to get increasingly fuel-efficient and are mandated to do so. We need to do something to fix that structural problem and investment in transportation."

The group has met with three of the four legislative leaders (House Minority Leader Tom Cross will huddle with the group's members on Tuesday), according to Morrison.

"What we're proposing (are) some funding ideas to be considered for investment in the infrastructure," Morrison told a group of local transportation officials, roadbuilders and public officials in a meeting at the Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign. "We want to be sure that those ideas aren't crazy, from their perspective, before we go public. Our intention is to come up with some funding ideas that we can advocate for and hopefully win support from policymakers for, ideally by the end of May."

The Legislature's spring session is scheduled to end on May 31.

Morrison said later, though, "that the real funding cliff happens about a year from now. But we'd like to get this done now and in place so that people know there's a future, and it's a positive one for transportation."

Among the "several ideas" under consideration, Morrison said, are a surcharge on alternative fuel vehicles "to reflect the fact that they're not paying a motor fuel tax, but they're using the roads.

"The other thing we're looking at is moving to a percentage-base tax on the motor fuel, on the theory that we're not going to have really low gas prices anytime in the future."

Illinois' motor fuel tax is among the lowest in the country, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. On a per capita basis, according to the most recent FTA figures, Illinois' motor fuel tax collects $103.73 per capita. All states neighboring Illinois, except Michigan at $99, had higher per capita rates.

But Illinois also allows local motor fuel taxes and levies a sales tax on gasoline sales which, according to the American Petroleum Institute, makes total motor fuel costs among the highest in the nation.

Also Monday, local officials bemoaned the level of state highway construction dollars being sent to East Central Illinois and complained about funding diversions from motor fuel taxes.

Spending in Illinois Transportation Department District 5, which includes Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, McLean, Piatt and Vermilion counties, is $135,000 per mile, the lowest in the state and just 70 percent of the next lowest region, according to the group Champaign County First.

"If you look at the numbers, we are woefully underfunded compared to the rest of the state," said Laura Weis, president and CEO of the Champaign Chamber of Commerce.

Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, said the discrepancy in funding for District 5 is a longtime complaint.

"In the last several years then-Rep. Chapin Rose and I would try to talk to the folks at IDOT and say, 'Look, what's going on at District 5? Look at the amount of funding," she said. "I haven't stopped. I'm still trying to get their ear, get their attention."

"We're noticing that there's a large portion of the money that used to come back to local road authorities somehow is being siphoned off and put into other places," said Champaign County Highway Engineer Jeff Blue. "People are paying at the pumps and they're paying for their drivers' licenses and their (license) plates and they think that money is going toward roads and it's not."

Morrison said that a large share of motor fuel tax revenue is going to state pension payments.

"One of our goals and principles for what we're going to propose is cleaning up the road fund so that the money stays where the users think it's going, into transportation," she said.

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

SocialinPurple wrote on April 30, 2013 at 8:04 am

Electric and hyrbid vehicles cut down on emissions, which in turn saves the state money in terms of pollution and health care costs for diseases and illness caused by tailpipe emissions.

I'm all for raising the gas tax, provided that some of that funding goes towards mass transportation. I think a percentage-based gas tax is fair-if you drive more, you should pay more. 

Hamhog wrote on April 30, 2013 at 9:04 am

Reduce the State and Federal personal income tax rates. When people have more money in their pockets they tend to spend more. They have to go places to have fun and spend money.

TrojanMan78 wrote on April 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

Awesome more taxes hikes! Just what we need.

I can not wait to eject myself from this rotten state. 

Federal income taxes, state income taxes, county sales taxes (8.75), property taxes

Aircraft Use Tax
Automobile Renting Occupation & Use Taxes
Bingo Tax & License Fees
Business District Tax
Business Income Tax
Charitable Games Tax & License Fees
Chicago Home Rule Municipal Soft Drink Retailers' Occupation Tax
Cigarette & Cigarette Use Taxes
Cigarette Machine Operator's Tax (Roll Your Own)
Coin-Operated Amusement Device Tax
County Motor Fuel Tax
County School Facility Tax
Dry Cleaning License Tax & Fee
DuPage Water Commission
Electricity Distribution & Invested Capital Taxes
Electricity Excise Tax
Energy Assistance & Renewable Energy Charges
Environmental Impact Fee & Underground Storage
Gas Tax
Gas Use Tax
Home Rule County
Home Rule or Non-home Rule Municipal
Hotel Operators' Occupation Taxes
Individual Income Tax
Illinois Sports Facility Hotel Tax
Liquor Gallonage Tax
Manufacturer's Purchase Credit (MPC)
Mass Transit District (Metro-East Mass Transit (MED) Taxes and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Taxes)
Metro-East Park and Recreation District
Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) Food & Beverage Tax
Metropolitan Pier and Exhibition Authority Tax (Hotel)
Motor Fuel Taxes
Municipal Hotel Tax (Chicago)
Oil & Gas Production Assessment
Personal Property Replacement Tax
Prepaid Wireless E911 Surcharge
Private Party Vehicle Tax
Property Tax Information
Pull Tabs & Jar Games Tax & License Fees
Qualified Solid Waste Energy Facility Payments
Real Estate Transfer Tax
Rental Housing Support State Surcharge
Sales & Use Taxes
Sales of Aircraft & Watercraft by Lessors
Simplified Municipal Telecommunication Tax
Special County Retailers' Occupation Tax for Public Safety, Public Facilities, and Transportation
Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
Telecommunications Tax
Telecommunications Infrastructure Maintenance Fees
Tire User Fee
Tobacco Products Tax
Use Tax for Individual Taxpayers
Watercraft Use Tax
Withholding (Payroll) Tax

 

etc, ad nauseum.

People and business are fleeing the state in massive numbers, and more power to them.

FRO wrote on April 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

They wouldn't have to raise taxes if all of the motor fuel tax revenue was all going for that fund. Morrison stated "a large share of motor fuel tax revenue is going to the PROBLEM STATE PENSION" again, the state of illionois is robbing peter to pay paul and peter is going broke.  So whats the answer?  Don't fix the problem, just raise taxes again, again, again,again etc...

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 30, 2013 at 11:04 am

Well, just steal the rest of the retired public employees money to avoid raising taxes.  The money left in the pension systems is primarily what the employees paid, not the state.  Just steal it.  That would solve the problem for a while......

dw wrote on April 30, 2013 at 12:04 pm

It makes for good political sound bite to go after those "freeloading electric and hybrid vehicle owners" but those hybrid and electric passenger vehicles cause negligable road wear.  

If you're going to talk about changing the road use/repair tax structure away from the problematic per-gallon rate, then we need to have a chat about what is "fair":  high weight per axle vehicles are what causes the damage and the rest of the public gets fleeced to pay for it:  compared to a standard passenger car, a city bus does over 850 times more road damage per mile - and puts on tons of 'em -- yet as a municipal agency pays no gas tax (a very strong argument for an electric rail system in C-U).  A semi, garbage or cement truck does well over 1,000 times more damage per mile.  Do these vehicle owners pay 1,000 times more road tax per mile driven?  If not, the public is subsidizing (being fleeced) to support that industry.

A fair and equitable tax structure would be creating vehcile classes based on their ESAL (equivalent single axle load - engineering term for 'how much road damage does this vehicle cause').  Require a mileage sticker to be purchased at the DMV just like the yearly license plate sticker, and hefty fines if the vehicle's mileage was over the mileage on the sticker.  Then everyone would be paying their fare share... this is how the first world countries do it (e.g. New Zealand).  

Here's the scientific info on road wear:  
http://facweb.knowlton.ohio-state.edu/pviton/courses2/crp776/776-roads-b...

anonymous2013 wrote on April 30, 2013 at 1:04 pm

You know the best thing to do is eliminate the fuel sales tax.   I personally sat down last week on my computer  and created a balanced state budget. By  reducing every office, cutting Public Safety not Police Fire or EMS  but over paid judges salaries and other BS programs in the court system that would save the state tons of money, Going back to operating levels of 1990's when Jim Edgar was in Office.  Also the best thing the State can do  with the Pension system  is this let current employees opt out of Tier 1 or Tier2   go into a Self Managed Plan (not the same as we currently have) but a new plan where you must sign up for Direct Depoist to any retirement investment company  where you deposit your 7.5 %  and the State matches the same or what ever it is now. Cut the middle man.  We will also need to rasie taxes for 3 yrs  while cutting the budget every year. Make Chicago fund themselves. no money north of I80  for 5 yrs  all of money goes down state. Cut all Welfare programs by half and piss test the rest. Get rid of CMS  create a new dept inside the treasuer's office to go line by line on spending  to approve or denie payments for "pet projects".  All of this is really simple    it just liberal idiots that get in the way of doing  something so simple  paying down debt. In 10 years  we can elminate  the income tax in the State of Illinois and have a surplus of 2.1 billion dollars. This is all why Quinn does not work for Illinois  he works for Chicago. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm

The problem with the pension systems is that the employer, the State of Illinois, did not pay it's contribution.  I would not put much faith in their doing it with a Self Managed Plan either.  Glad that you did the state's budget.  Please send copies of it to each legislator, and the governor.