Illinois transportation advocates have been calling for changes to the state's motor fuel tax as a means to boost funding to revamp roads and other transit infrastructure in need of urgent repairs.
But at a Thursday press conference, Illinois gas station owners and representatives from Americans for Prosperity, the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and the Illinois Association of Convenience Stores slammed the idea of hiking the motor fuel tax. Such a plan, they said, would be unnecessary because the state already has the revenue needed for road improvements.
Bill Fleischli, executive vice president of Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and Illinois Association of Convenience Stores, explained that state lawmakers just approved a budget bill for the current fiscal year that sweeps the state's road and motor fuel tax funds by $250 million and $50 million, respectively. That money does not have to be paid back into the funds.
"It is clear here that is revenue available to meet our road construction needs," Fleischli said. "If it was a surplus, there is no need for a tax increase."
In a statement, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, which is advocating for a gas tax hike, said: "Gas taxes in Illinois have not been raised in more than 20 years in Illinois, yet the cost to build and maintain our transportation infrastructure has grown exponentially and our vehicles are much, more fuel efficient. The coalition has proposed in the past and is asking lawmakers and the governor again to consider a very modest gas tax increase as part of a broader package to address dire needs for our roads, bridges and transit systems."