Politics & Government

Pritzker wants to fix state roads and may tax your Netflix and Uber to do it

Pritzker discusses a capital bill

Gov. J.B. Pritzker discusses his desire for a capital bill. He also talks about possible funding sources.
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker discusses his desire for a capital bill. He also talks about possible funding sources.

A preliminary six-year, $41.5 billion capital plan being distributed to legislators by the governor’s office calls for an increased gas tax and vehicle registration fees in addition to a ride-sharing tax among other revenue sources.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and legislators have been working to get a capital plan passed this year to help address infrastructure needs around the state. The last capital bill in the state was the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! plan, which was adopted in 2009.

Legislators have held hearings around the state to gain insight on what revenue sources would be palatable to constituents. Before details of Rebuild Illinois had been revealed, state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, had called for increases in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

According to a copy of the proposal, obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat, some sample projects that are a part of the Rebuild Illinois plan include tending to deferred maintenance and programmatic funding for the communications building at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and a health sciences building at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

The proposal includes renovation and repairs of the main complex at Lewis and Clark Community College.

State senators held a committee hearing at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Monday on a possible capital bill. Possible projects and funding sources were discussed.

There also would be $28.6 billion for transportation projects including $11 billion in multi-year road and bridge work plan.

Transit districts outside of the Chicago region would share in $319 million to maintain and improve their systems, according to the plan.

The preliminary plan includes a new $24.4 million four-lane road in Jersey County that will re-route U.S. 67 east of Delhi. The existing U.S. 67 is a rural two-lane road built in the 1940s, and sees 11,000 vehicles a day on average, including 1,000 heavy vehicles, according to the Rebuild Illinois plan. The bypass would extend the four-lane section, tying into recently completed four-lane sections of U.S. 67 to the south.

“As a result of working group sessions with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle from both chambers of the General Assembly, the administration is working on a preliminary draft of a comprehensive capital plan that will put 540,000 Illinoisans back to work and finally fix our crumbling infrastructure,” said Jordan Abudayyeh, Pritzker’s press secretary. “The administration looks forward to continuing to engaging in productive conversations before the proposal is finalized.”

In order to pay for the six-year plan, the proposal, which is subject to negotiations and changes, calls for nearly $1.8 billion in new revenue including doubling the motor fuel tax to 38 cents per gallon from 19 cents, instituting a ride share tax of $1 per ride, and taxing cable, satellite and streaming services at 7 percent, and taxing parking garage fees.

Taxes on beer, wine and distilled liquor also would be increased.

Under the proposed plan, going to the driver services office would cost more when registering your vehicle. The current vehicle registration fee is $101 per vehicle.

Rebuild Illinois proposes a tiered approach based on vehicle age. Annual fees for vehicles three years or newer would increase to $199, four-to-six years old would be $169, seven-to-11 years old would be $139, and vehicles 12 years and older to $109.

Electric vehicle registration also would go up from $34 every other year to $250 every year to help with road maintenance.

As details of the plan began to leak out Friday, there was some concern from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

“We appreciate that the Governor’s Office has begun their capital conversation in earnest with a specific revenue and spending package, some of which the business community supports,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch. “We are encouraged to see some of the ideas the Illinois Chamber has promoted included in their plan. However, most of the revenue in the governor’s proposal is not new revenue for additional maintenance and new projects, but rather existing state, federal, and local sources that were already planned. We look forward to learning more about all proposals and working towards a bipartisan solution. One particular concern in the governor’s plan, is the reliance on a new media streaming tax for non-transportation construction. The Chamber believes this will be an unreliable foundation for funding because it will be complex, unpopular and possibly unconstitutional.”

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.