Taxpayers’ Pain at Pump Helps Govt. Employees, Not Roads

CHICAGO – “With Chicago boasting the highest gas prices of any city in the country,” said Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America (TUA), “taxpayers may be surprised to learn that their pain at the pump isn’t helping the roads in Illinois.”

Instead, the biggest portion of their gasoline tax burden is directed towards the state’s general fund, to pay for the salaries and lavish pensions of government employees. That’s because the biggest portion of the gasoline burden is the Illinois sales tax. At 6.5% statewide, the sales tax is now taking over 20 cents from every gallon of gasoline purchased, and the money doesn’t make it back to transportation.

Transportation in Illinois is funded by motor fuel taxes, license fees, and other taxes that are captured by transportation-specific funds. However, since sales taxes are directed into the state’s general fund, those revenues rarely make it back into transportation funding. In FY 2011, only $79 million was enacted back towards transportation despite yearly fuel sales tax revenues of over $700 million.

According to the State Comptroller’s office, an additional $395 million in funding has been taken from the road fund. The State Construction Account Fund was raided recently despite original legislative provisions stating that license fee increases were to be used only for highway system maintenance. Again, all of this is despite Illinois having the fourth-highest gasoline tax burden in the country, and Chicago now possessing the highest gas prices nationwide.

“With the sales tax driving Illinois gas prices ever higher,” said Jim Tobin, “and sales tax funds going towards lavish government retirements and not roads, it’s time for Illinois taxpayers to ask if they’re really getting their money’s worth at the pump these days.”

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