Illinois would pour $41.5 billion into state construction projects over six years to rebuild and maintain roads, mass transit, schools and affordable housing, raise recreation areas, expand broadband and more under a plan Gov. J.B. Pritzker sketched out Friday.
It would mean a doubling motor fuel tax, to 38 cents per gallon to fill up the tank, and registering a car less than three years old would cost $199 a year, up from $100.
The Democrat briefed key lawmakers Friday at the state Capitol. He intended that only legislators see what spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh called a “preliminary draft,” but news organizations including The Associated Press obtained copies of it.
Highlighting the “C” grade that a leading organization of civil engineers last year gave the state’s network of bricks, steel and concrete, the report added that long-overdue, delayed maintenance at state facilities, schools and universities has reached $24 billion.
“Businesses and residents alike face untold costs for the congestion delays, damage to vehicles, and concern over the integrity of bridges and failure to maintain facilities for public use,” the report said.
It’s the first large public-works proposals since the $31 billion “Illinois Jobs Now” plan under Gov. Pat Quinn in 2009. “Illinois FIRST” was a $12 billion plan by Gov. George Ryan in 1999. Called “Rebuild Illinois,” Pritzker’s proposal calls to mind Gov. James Thompson’s popular “Build Illinois” plan of the mid-1980s.
Abudayyeh downplayed the importance of the opening salvo, delivered on May 17 in a legislative session scheduled to end May 31. She emphasized that the ideas compiled by bipartisan “working groups” led to “a preliminary draft of a comprehensive capital plan that will put 540,000 Illinoisans back to work and finally fix our crumbling infrastructure.”
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington, a leader of Illinois’ tax-averse Republicans, said only that he anticipates discussions toward “a plan that addresses our state’s critical infrastructure needs and creates jobs.”
The massive undertaking would reserve $23 billion for roads and bridges, more than half of which would go to new construction, along with $3.4 billion for mass transit and $440 million for an ongoing transportation efficiency program in the Chicago region.
Education would get $5.9 billion, with $3 billion for PreK-12 school construction , a state-assistance program whose funding has dried up. Higher education would get $2.4 billion for deferred campus maintenance, a deficiency exacerbated by a two-year budget stalemate between Democrats in the Legislature and former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. There’s $1 billion for renewable energy works and environmental, conservation and recreation projects.
To pay for it, Pritzker proposes hiking the 19-cents-a-gallon gas tax, last increased in 1990, to 38 cents to bring in $560 million annually.
The vehicle registration fee, increased for both the 1999 and 2009 infrastructure plans, would jump to $199 a year for vehicles newer than three years old. Motorists driving cars from four to six years old would pay $169, there would be a $139 fee for automobiles seven to 11 years old and those a dozen years or older would be assessed $109. It would increase annual revenue by $490 million.
There would also be increases in other, likely contentious areas. The real estate transfer tax and liquor taxes would increase. There would be revenue from a planned graduated tax on video gambling, yet to be discussed in the Legislature. There would be new taxes on ride-sharing — $1 per trip statewide — and a 7% assessment on cable, satellite and streaming services.
Pritzker’s preliminary construction plan: https://bit.ly/30vhSaH
Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor .