ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The push to fund road repairs is gaining momentum, but some warn against a tax increase which comes with it.
One plan would double the state’s gas tax from 19-cents to 38-cents per gallon. The plan has backing from some powerful labor unions.
Union workers said the bill will create new jobs while opponents said taxpayers are already strapped for cash. Lawmakers against the measure say the funding can be found somewhere else.
“We are in a state that has a declining population. Do we need new projects right now?“ East Dundee republican Allen Skillicorn said. “Two years ago, the state changed the constitution to divert more money to transportation and road funding. So, that should be millions and millions of dollars. Where did that money go? I want to find out where that money went because of the Lockbox Amendment. Did it go to roads or did it go to bureaucracy? That’s what I want to know,“ Skillicorn said.
The bill has the support of union members like Marc Poulos of the Illinois Foundation for Contracting. Poulos said the new gas tax would provide a more stable source of funding.
“The constitutional amendment that was passed a couple of years ago had virtually nothing to do with an actual increase in funding. It had to do with the protection of the current funding which has been severely underfunded for the past 25 or 30-years,“ said Poulos.
The bill’s sponsor and advocates said the state is long overdue for this type of legislation.
“I think the state has not invested substantially in our infrastructure in so long. We are at a point where we need to do it. Roads and bridges are crumbling,“ said Alison Howlett Walters, executive director of the Labor Management for Chicago.
Supporters believe the bill will be a home run for the state’s economy. They expect the bill to pass this session.