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Pritzker Proposes Massive Building Plan, And The Tax Increases To Pay For It

Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is finally getting specific on what could be in a massive statewide building plan — and what taxes and fees could be raised to pay for it.

Brian Mackey reports.

Legislators have traversed the state to hear about everything from potholes to leaky roofs. There’s widespread agreement — bipartisan and at every level of government — that a capital construction plan is desperately needed.

Pritzker is proposing spending $28.6 billion on transportation projects — mostly roads and bridges, with a relatively smaller share for mass transit and inter-city rail projects. Another $5.9 billion would go for school maintenance and construction, from early childhood through public universities.

State facilities would get $4.4 billion for deferred maintenance. And there would be smaller amounts for things like renewable energy upgrades at state facilities ($140 million), broadband expansion ($400 million), and community health centers ($50 million).

All told, Pritzker’s proposal would spend $41.5 billion over six years.

That leaves the question of how to pay for it.

Pritzker would start by doubling the gas tax — from its current 19 cents a gallon to 38. He’d also increase license plate fees on a sliding scale depending on the age of the vehicle: $199 for vehicles up to 3 years old, $169 for 4-6 years old, $139 for 7-11 years old, and $109 for 12 years or older.

Rides from Uber and Lyft would cost an extra dollar. Parking garages would cost an extra 6 percent for daily and hourly; 9 percent for monthly or annual rates. And cable, satellite and streaming services would be taxed at 7 percent.

The Pritzker administration emphasized this is a draft proposal that came out of bipartisan discussions. “The administration looks forward to continuing to engaging in productive conversations before the proposal is finalized,” spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement.

Reaction from interesting groups was generally positive on the spending side, but with reservations about taxes. “One particular concern in the governor’s plan is the reliance on a new media streaming tax for non-transportation construction,” Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch said in a statement. “The Chamber believes this will be an unreliable foundation for funding because it will be complex, unpopular and possibly unconstitutional.”

Lawmakers are trying to get the plan through the General Assembly before the scheduled end of this year’s session. That gives them until May 31st — less than two weeks away.

Copyright 2019 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6020.
Brian Mackey
Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.