DuPage County voters brake hard on per-mile driving tax

DuPage County voters brake hard on per-mile driving tax

Voters in DuPage County strongly oppose a per-mile driving tax – a measure Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker has floated in the past.

Motorists in DuPage County are not interested in allowing the state to track them and tax them by the mile.

County leaders asked voters whether to oppose any statewide efforts to enact a Vehicle Miles Traveled, or VMT, tax. More than 77 percent of nearly 354,000 votes cast Nov. 6 wanted leaders to oppose a VMT tax, according to the DuPage County Election Commission.

The countywide referendum asked, “shall DuPage County oppose the creation of a statewide Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT) which would tax DuPage County citizens based upon the number of miles driven annually?”

Because the VMT tax referendum was an advisory question, the results are nonbinding. But state leaders should take note of DuPage voters’ clear stand.

In January, during an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board, then-gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker said he’d be open to taxing drivers by the mile if elected.

“It’s only fair, right, that if you’re on a road and traveling on that road that you should pay your fair share on the road like everybody else is paying,” Pritzker told the Herald. The incoming Illinois governor has since denied having a specific plan for the tax.

In 2016, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton advanced Senate Bill 3267, which would have instituted a statewide VMT tax. All drivers would have had to pay a per-mile road user fee and pick one of three tracking options: two plans that used tracking devices, or a third option under which drivers would pay an annual fee of $450. Opposition to Cullerton’s bill largely concerned the use of GPS tracking devices.

Voters’ aversion to the VMT tax is understandable. Illinois drivers already get hosed at the pump with layers of gas taxes – including federal, state, environmental, county home rule, home rule, regional transportation and sales taxes.

Pritzker will assume the state’s top office Jan. 14. He will have great discretion on which policies Illinois pursues to repair its broken finances. The incoming governor should take to heart Illinoisans’ outsized tax burden, and lead Springfield toward reforms that provide taxpayer relief and address the state’s core fiscal problems.

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