Illinois voters to decide this November on transportation 'lockbox'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Voters in Illinois can cast ballots this fall on issues that include a protection for transportation revenue.

The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to approve a joint resolution, HJRCA36, to amend the Illinois Constitution to prevent revenues from the state’s road fund from being used for purposes not related to transportation.

Illinois now collects a base tax of 19 cents per gallon on gas and 21.5 cents on diesel.

Diverting revenue from fuel taxes and other driver fees is a common practice in Illinois. Since the early 2000s more than $6 billion in state transportation-related tax revenue has been raided for other purposes.

The diversions contribute to the state’s projected $43 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next decade.

Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, said passage of the “lockbox” measure would ensure the state’s infrastructure continues to be up to date for the foreseeable future.

“Things like highways, railroads and bridges are quite literally what allow us to move goods and people to conduct commerce and allow for the continued economic advancement of Illinois,” Haine said in prepared remarks.

The question will appear on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot. If approved, all fuel tax revenues would be directed solely for transportation-related purposes. The governor’s office would also be prevented from tapping into the funding source for other uses.

The protection would not apply to state and local sales taxes. The taxes are often added to the fuel tax collected at the pump.

Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, highlighted the benefits the measure would have for infrastructure.

“First, it is ridiculous that we would use transportation-related fees for anything other than the improvement of our infrastructure,” Forby stated. “This bill fixes that issue. Secondly, when we are improving our roads we are creating jobs for the people who work on our infrastructure.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois, click here.

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