Some Illinoisans want to see the state enact a 5 percent severance tax on coal.
The environmental group Community Futures Initiative is rallying support around the proposed coal severance tax in Illinois and is looking to have state legislation introduced next year. The proposal's chances for approval could be higher during a non-election year, the group notes in explaining its strategy for holding off until 2017.
Under the Community Futures Initiative's proposal, revenue from a 5 percent tax on the gross value of coal produced in Illinois would be equally divided between the Illinois General Revenue Fund, communities with coal mines and a permanent mineral trust fund, which "accumulates interest and provides additional funds for job-creating projects."
If the severance tax were enacted last year, it would have generated $141.5 million in revenue, according to the Community Futures Initiative. The group says the proposal could raise $258.2 million in annual revenue by 2040.
Leaders with the initiative have been discussing the severance tax proposal in various Illinois communities like Benld, where abandoned coal mines are located. Homes and other structures in Benld have been damaged as a result of coal mine collapses.
On Monday, the Benld City Council approved a resolution in support of the proposed coal tax.
"I don't think it's a bad thing actually to ask somebody to pay a tax that would then go into a fund to help alleviate some of these problems," Benld Mayor Gloria Sidar told the Associated Press.
The Illinois Coal Association maintains that a severance tax would hurt the competitiveness of local coal companies.