Illinois lawmakers seeking to double state gas tax, raise $2 billion for infrastructure

One lawmaker said motorists should expect a push to double the state’s gas tax from .19 cents a gallon to .38 cents.

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) -- There’s a $2 billion gas tax increase on the table at the statehouse to pay for infrastructure projects, but some warn such a move will hurt lower-income families the hardest. There’s also an effort to give municipalities more ability to impose their own gas taxes.

State Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, said motorists should expect a push to double the state’s gas tax from .19 cents a gallon to .38 cents heading into the home stretch of spring session. An amendment to Senate Bill 103 would also increase the annual vehicle registration fee by $50, and $130 more for electric vehicles.

A fact sheet from the International Union of Operating Engineers says those increases along with doubling the fee on drivers’ licenses and increasing truck registration fees by $100 would raise an additional $2 billion.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, said increasing the motor fuel tax will hit working families.

“That especially hurts lower-income folks who are just trying to make ends meet,” Sosnowski said.

Sandoval said a separate bill he expects to be heard next week in committee would allow for local governments to impose a gas tax on top of the state’s gas tax for local roads and infrastructure projects.

That measure, an amendment to Senate Bill 582, would allow non-home rule communities to impose their own motor fuel tax, but there are no caps.

“They have a better understanding of what’s important to them than perhaps what’s in Springfield,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said despite studies like a recent WalletHub report showing Illinois is already the highest taxed state in the nation, taxpayers should get on board with the idea.

“I believe that if we want to be a leader on our infrastructure as well as provide some relief to local communities in regards to some of their institutions, I think they would appreciate a capital bill that’s financed with newer forms of revenues,” Sandoval said.

Sosnowski said Illinoisans already pay some of the highest taxes in the country.

“We’re hearing a lot about more taxes and not about how do we save money,” Sosnowski said.

Related: Environmentalists, shoppers differ on Illinois bag tax

Sosnowski said state government could work to consolidate operations, end poorly performing grant programs and find other efficiencies, rather than just increasing taxes.