Dupage Policy Journal

Dupage Policy Journal

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Rep. Wehrli looks to 'Safe Roads' amendment for silver lining in state's new gas tax

By Glenn Minnis | Aug 8, 2019

Drivers are happy with the extremely low gas prices at the pumps. | Upupa4me / Flickr

More than a month after the state’s gas tax doubled to 38 cents per gallon, Illinois state Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) is still trying to find a silver lining.

“If there is good news to be associated with the increase in the gas tax, it is that the funds are protected,” Wehrli said in a recent press release. “They can only be used for transportation improvements.”

As of early last month, the Auditor General is required to conduct annual audits to provide for additional protections against any transportation diversions from the motor-fuel tax (MFT) increase. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a $45 billion infrastructure plan in June that was part of his overall $85 billion state spending budget, paving the way for the higher gas taxes that some are estimating could generate as much as $1.2 billion in added revenues for the state. 

Under the plan, vehicle registration fees in some cases also jumped by 33 percent to $148. Illinois instantly became home to the third-highest gas tax burden in the country and, according to Illinois Policy Institute, put the typical Illinois driver on the hook for $100 more in annual MFT costs that could rise even higher due to inflation.  

“I voted against the increase in the gas tax,” stressed Wehrli, whose 41st District includes the Naperville and Warrenville areas.

The “Safe Roads/Transportation Lockbox Amendment” was a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution that was approved by voters in the November 2016 general election

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Illinois State Representative Grant Wehrli