Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker have different ideas about how to tax motorists and raise money for road improvements around the state.
After his appearance at a forum this week in Normal for the Illinois Farm Bureau, Gov. Bruce Rauner told reporters Pritzker has a plan to tax drivers based on how many miles they drive.
“Pritzker has proposed a mileage tax on cars,” Rauner said. “He has proposed a tax, put a box in your car, measure your miles and pay a tax based on how many miles you drive.”
IFB President Richard Guebert asked Pritzker about it.
“How would that impact agriculture, particularly farmers that drive just about everywhere to go anywhere and to do everything?” Guebert asked.
“I don’t have a proposal for a mileage tax,” Pritzker said.
He referenced a pilot program in Oregon. That program, OReGO, published a report in April 2017.
“Volunteers who enroll in the OReGO program self-install a mileage reporting device in their vehicle and are charged 1.5 cents per mile driven,” the 2017 final report said. “More than 1,300 vehicles so far have enrolled in OReGO statewide, providing an adequately diverse fleet to support effective testing.”
“We’ve got to invest in infrastructure,” Pritzker said. ”So we’ve got to find ways to pay for an infrastructure bill because ten years without an infrastructure bill in this state, you all know, our roads and bridges and waterways are crumbling.”
Pritzker said he’s open to any and all ideas to raise more revenue for Illinois’ infrastructure. Previous reports have indicated Illinois’ infrastructure needs $21 billion annually to repair.
Earlier this year, the Illinois Economic Policy Institute proposed more than doubling the state's motor fuel tax – from 34 cents to 85 cents, and increasing the vehicle registration fee from $101 yearly to $578 a year, to pay for infrastructure.
Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marc Scribner has said the media has overblown infrastructure problems.
“But where [problems] do exist, they are almost entirely the result of the failure to do routine maintenance,” Scribner said, “and that is entirely a state and local decision.”
One thing that could help make state and local tax dollars go further, Scribner said, is addressing things like prevailing wage and sourcing requirements.
“There are all sorts of federal requirements that needlessly increase state costs,” Scribner said, “and that’s something that really, the labor and buy America certainly, weren’t addressed in a positive way in [President Donald Trump’s] plan.”
Rauner said Wednesday a mileage tax is the wrong answer for Illinois, which has many rural areas outside of the Chicago suburbs.
“That will be devastating for farm families, devastating for anyone living in a small town or a rural community,” Rauner said.
Pritzker said Rauner failed at getting infrastructure projects going, but with the recently enacted budget there has been millions of dollars, matched with federal funds, for projects throughout the state. Lawmakers failed to pass a budget the two years prior.