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Illinois lawmakers propose raising gas tax to fund road and bridge repairs

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From potholes to ageing bridges, Illinois roadways have received a poor rating from the American Society of Engineers on their Infrastructure Report Card.

State Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, proposed Senate Bill 103 last Wednesday.

I’m not happy about that, said Debbie Dewitt, a driver we spoke with. It costs enough already and it’s already gone up enough. It’s expensive to go anywhere now, so I wouldn’t appreciate that as much.

Another driver we spoke with, Robert, said, That’s terrible. I have a long drive to work everyday and it seems like the last time they raised taxes to help improve the roads, it didn’t help us, locally. The roads are still terrible.

Illinois lawmakers are considering raising the tax on gas from .19 cents per gallon to .38 cents per gallon, which is anticipated to bring in $2 billion in revenue to repair roads and bridges.

Rockford University Associate Professor of Economics, Roxana Idu, Ph.D, says now is the time to do it.

When gas prices are lower is one of the best times [to raise taxes], she said. We’ve had historically low prices for the last couple of years now, so it’s defnitely an easier time to do that right now, than at other times.

Dr. Idu says the extra cost will put drivers will strain driver’s finances.

We in economics consider gasoline an inelastic good, she said. So, that means, when prices rise, a tax like this would increase prices…[placing] a larger burden on the buyers, since the buyers would not have the ability to subsitute [another fuel].

The tax on gas has not increased since 1990. 

The gas tax bill would still need approval from a smaller Senate committee before the full Senate takes a vote on it and sends it to the House.

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