Pritzker floats idea for vehicle miles traveled tax - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Pritzker floats idea for vehicle miles traveled tax

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WSIL -- In an interview with the Daily Herald, Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker says the state needs to explore a vehicle miles traveled, or VMT tax. 

A VMT charges taxes on fuel based on how many miles people drive instead of how much gas they burn.  Pritzker says it's money needed for roads and bridges.

"It's only fair if you're on a road and traveling on that road then you should pay your fair share on the road like everybody else is paying," explained Pritzker.

As cars have become more fuel efficient, revenue from motor fuel taxes have shrunk. Pritzker argues that's left state and federal infrastructure projects strapped for cash.

The the average gas mileage for a new car today is just over 25 miles per gallon, an increase of nearly five miles per gallon over the last decade. 

Despite lower gas prices over the last few years, gas mileage is still a big factor for consumers buying new cars. 

"That was the first thing I thought about just because I drive a lot," said John A Logan student China Morris.  

Morris drives her Honda Accord from work to school each day, but her priority list when buying a car is similar to many around Illinois and around the country. 

"Saving money on gas mileage is important to everyone these days," said Alex Daly, floor manager at Vic Koenig Chevrolet. "Whether it be hybrids or electric vehicles we have out now or just the newer transmissions in a gas vehicle that get better gas mileage." 

With even trucks and SUVs becoming more fuel efficient, along with more electric cars expected on the road in the future, Pritzker argues other states are already looking into how to compensate for lost revenue.

"There is less gas tax coming in because people are buying less

gas , which is a good thing," said Pritzker. "But it does mean we're challenged to come up with dollars for highway system and our roads." 

A VMT may sound familiar. A proposal in the Senate back in 2016 would have given drivers the choice between installing a device to track their mileage or pay a 1.5-cent-per-mile tax on a base 30,000 miles traveled per year. That measure was quickly shot down.

At just over $0.30 per gallon, Illinois state gas tax is already higher than neighboring states like Missouri, Kentucky, and Indiana.

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