Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $41 billion, six-year capital construction plan counts on revenue from doubling the state’s gas tax, increasing vehicle registration fees, higher alcohol taxes, imposing a surcharge on ride-sharing services and levying a 7-percent tax on streaming media services.
Pritzker defended those plans Wednesday amid renewed criticism from across the aisle. A Republican state Representative said that instead of increasing taxes to pay for infrastructure projects the state needs, lawmakers should find efficiencies in how the state spends what it already collects from taxpayers.
“It’s important that they’re stable revenue sources because you need to go bond them out, and in order to get people to buy the bond you have to have a stable source to pay the bonds,” Pritzker said Wednesday. “So that’s why we did that.”
State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, said those are regressive taxes, and there need to be efficiencies before tax increases are considered.
“But frankly the governor came out last week with his proposal and it had no reforms, it was just a straight out $40 billion tax hike. “None of those reforms were there and that’s what we need to be talking about.”
Skillicorn also said the state should wait for the federal government to put out its infrastructure plan.
“The federal government has failed to enact a meaningful infrastructure bill since 2009, exacerbating Illinois’ failures to invest in basic infrastructure,” the governor’s plan says. “[The plan] leverages as much federal money as possible to bring significant investments to our surface, rail, water, broadband and community infrastructure.”
U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly walked away from planned infrastructure talks with Democrats on Wednesday. The president said he wouldn't work with Congress until investigations of him cease.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch said his group still wants to see the sales tax that’s on top of the gas tax go away, as is in the Chamber’s proposed capital plan.
“We believe that proposal remains on the table, we’ll see if we can get it done,” Maisch said. “It makes good policy and good politics, so we think it will be in there in the end.”
Maisch also said the proposed 7 percent streaming media tax in the governor’s proposal may be unconstitutional because the cable industry already pays a tax and it won’t be levied equally. He said it’s also extremely unpopular.
“You’re going to see a scroll at the bottom of your screen that says ‘call your legislator because you don’t want to pay higher taxes for Hulu or Prime or whatever the service is.’ You’re going to see that is my prediction.”
Lawmakers have a deadline of May 31 to pass legislation with simple majorities. After that, for anything to take effect immediately, it will take super majorities in both chambers.