Massive, bipartisan transportation package approved in Illinois

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Illinois has just made giant strides in modernizing the state’s surface transportation—it became the fourth state of 2019 to increase its gas tax. Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) signed into law a 19-cent per gallon gas tax increase, doubling the previous rate to a total of 38 cents per gallon, as part of a $45 billion infrastructure plan, dubbed the “Rebuild Illinois plan.” In addition to creating new revenue for roads and bridges through the tax, the bill also increased the vehicle registration fee and added an electric vehicle registration fee.

Several years in the making, the passage of this transportation package is part in due to the ASCE Illinois Section’s engagement on the issue. At the Section’s annual Legislative Drive-ins in Springfield the last five years, seeking additional investment for roads and bridges has been a top priority. Partnering with likeminded groups, ASCE continuously asked legislators to increase the gas tax and consider all possible revenue sources. The Section and ASCE at-large have also leveraged their relationships with partner groups, including GOVERNING, Women in Government, the National Conference of State Legislators, and the Council of State Governments to advocate for solutions to address Illinois legacy networks and built systems.

The 2018 Report Card for Illinois Infrastructure, released in February 2018, asked the Illinois legislature to “develop new revenue sources that provide adequate long-term sustainable funding for infrastructure.” Members of the Illinois Report Card Committee spent much of the last year speaking to key stakeholder and citizen groups to share the Report Card grades and recommendations and drive support for improving the state’s roads and bridges. Illinois Report Card Co-Chairs Pat Lach and Darren Olsen, P.E., spoke to legislators and key decision-makers throughout the state, urging them to act to raise revenue for infrastructure.

July 1st, 2019—that’s when this new gas tax increase takes effect and is estimated to generate an additional $1.2 billion. The new revenue will be shared by state ($560 million) and local ($650 million) governments to improve roads and bridges. The passage of this gas tax increase will also index the gas tax to inflation, which means it will automatically rise in future years without legislative approval. This is a key component, as it will help ensure the gas tax keeps pace with the rising cost of materials and labor.

The gas tax increase is a big win for ASCE members as well as the people and businesses of Illinois. We applaud the Illinois Legislature for investing in the state’s surface transportation, which will help the citizens of Illinois maintain a good quality of life and a robust state economy.

If you want to get involved in ASCE’s advocacy efforts, join the Key Contact Program. Similarly, if you’re curious about legislation in your state that stands to impact civil engineering and our infrastructure, be sure to visit ASCE’s state legislative tracking page, especially as legislatures reconvene in early 2019.

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