Truth in taxation: Midwest Truckers Association’s push for a better capital plan

Traffic Jam Interstate 80

Busy Interstate – Studstill Media File Photo

SPRINGFIELD – Illinoisans are buckling up for a slew of motor fuel taxes come July 1st, but it’s a small win for a large industry.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s horizontal infrastructure plan did’t come as a surprise to the Transportation for Illinois Coalition. In fact, the coalition has been on the negotiation tables from the start.

Matt Walls, Associate Director for the Midwest Truckers Association says as an industry, agreements were made with legislators and key law makers for a motor fuel tax increase.  In two weeks from now diesel fuel tax will get bumped 5 cents to 45.5 cents total. Plus, a flat increase of $100 on truck registration.

So where do the victories come into play? The removal of the commercial distribution fee, a 14.35% sales tax imposed on all license plates for Illinois vehicles that weigh between 8,001 and 80,000 pounds. Walls says the removal has been a goal of the Midwest Truckers Association since its institution in 2004, a tax that was directed to the state’s general fund.

Another victory for the industry is called the constitutional lock box. Walls says it’s one of the biggest playing pieces that no one talks about. The sole reason MTA came to the table, two years ago.

According to Illinois Policy, Voters in 2016 overwhelmingly approved the “lock-box” constitutional amendment. It dedicates revenues from state and local sales taxes on gasoline to transportation costs.

MTA is not %100 behind the capital bill, but the lock-box feature puts them at ease. “We know constitutionally by the courts they can’t use that money for anything else.” said Walls.

While the coalition fought for a more sustainable capital plan, Walls says most trucking companies are not tickled by the tax, as it will hurt some.

However, Illinoisans have not seen a motor fuel tax since 1991 when it increased by 3 cents.

“1991 dollars don’t go very far in maintaining roads. Its a tremendously long time to be going without increasing revenue,” said Walls. “We’ve reached a tipping point and we have to invest in our roads.”

What Midwest Trucker Association is keeping an eye on now is honesty in taxation, making sure legislators can’t formulate other expenses as transportation costs to push into the fund.