Transportation spending in Illinois is going to fall off a cliff, we are told by a group that supports building and maintaining roads.
State spending on roads and transit will drop from $1.1 billion this year to $352 million next, with the end of the 2010 construction program, and overall planned spending is $1.8 billion in the first year of the IDOT six-year plan, but $1.3 billion in the other years. The Transportation for Illinois Coalition says at least $1.8 billion is needed every year.
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Todd Maish of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, a member of the coalition, says $1.5 billion was taken from the road fund this spring by the governor and lawmakers to shore up other parts of the state budget, making things worse.
“It’s going to have a negative impact on roads and bridges unless something is done to re-fill that. So we think that that big sweep makes the need for state action on a comprehensive plan, a large plan, that much more important,” he said.
Also, the federal highway trust fund is due to run dry this summer. The federal gas tax of 19 cents a gallon hasn’t been raised since 1993, since which time inflation has eaten away half its value, and drivers are getting more miles per gallon.
What to do? Maisch does not have a position on the gas tax, but he says there should be a dedicated stream of tax revenue from the income or sales tax, because everyone benefits from good roads and transit, even if they aren’t directly the user.