Senate President Drops Proposal To 'Tax Illinois Drivers By the Mile'

As reported by ABC 7 Eyewitness News, Illinois Senate president, John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he will not pursue a proposal to pay for road construction by taxing motorists by the miles they drive. He floated the idea last week because revenue from taxes on gasoline is declining. Cars are more fuel-efficient but they still wear out roads.

The idea was to allow motorists to choose to have a device monitor mileage or pay 1.5 cents per mile on a base 30,000 miles yearly. Cullerton posted on social media Friday that he intended the plan - which the Executive Committee aired on Wednesday - to spark debate about more efficient ways to fund road-building.

He says he "received a lot of constructive feedback" but will not pursue his plan.

Gas tax revenue has fallen in Illinois, so this would be a way to make money off everyone, including hybrid and electric car drivers. But some critics worry about how the government will monitor the miles you drive.

"I go to different clinics that I can work for," said Kim Mott.

Just in the last six months, Mott put 13,000 miles on her car for her medical billing job. The thought of paying by the miles frightens her.

"I will move to another state. Thank you, Illinois," Mott said.

State Senate leader John Cullerton is pushing for a 1.5 cent per mile tax to fund road repairs, saying with more people driving fuel-efficient vehicles and electric vehicles, gas tax revenue is on the decline.

"Because people are buying less gas if they buy a hybrid. That is the point. It seems like they are still trying to cash in," driver Jason Harper said.

Here's how the plan would work. Drivers could have a mileage monitoring device put in their cars or if they have privacy concerns, they can choose to pay a 1.5 cent-per-mile tax on a base of 30,000 miles traveled per year. That comes out to $450. Drivers would get a refund for the taxes paid at the pump.

"I don't think it is great idea. I drive 20 to 30 miles every day," driver Mike Maher said.

But Cullerton says those drivers who put a lot of miles on their car shouldn't worry.

"Nothing changes for them. So, they are paying more in gas now and gas tax now than people who drive shorter miles," Cullerton said.

There's also a proposal to raise the gas tax by $0.30 to $0.60 a gallon. That would make it the highest in the country.

**Illinois is at the heart of the country’s interstate highway system. This vast system consists of coast-to-coast interstates I-80 and I-90, along with I-70 that extends from the east coast to Utah. These major corridors are joined by multiple north – south corridors including I-39, I-55, and I-57 and additional east – west corridors such as I-24, I-64, and I-74. In all, there are 2,185 interstate miles that serve the state, making Illinois the third ranking state in the U.S. There are an additional 15,989 miles of state highways.