Per-mile driving tax screeches to halt in Illinois General Assembly

Per-mile driving tax screeches to halt in Illinois General Assembly

An Illinois House lawmaker has pulled a proposed per-mile tax from consideration less than a week after introducing it.

Taxing Illinois drivers by the mile may be off Springfield’s itinerary.

State Rep. Marcus Evans Jr., D-Chicago, tabled a proposal in the Illinois House of Representatives on Feb. 19 that sought to create a pilot program for a vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, tax. Evans introduced House Bill 2864 in the Illinois House of Representatives on Feb. 14, and tabled it a week after introducing the bill.

In a state that ranks lowest in government trust but among the highest in gasoline taxes, voters can find encouragement in Evans’ responsiveness to Illinoisans’ voices: More than 30,000 people signed a petition on stating their opposition to a VMT tax after the bill was filed.

“Let’s just talk about the idea,” Evans said, according to the State Journal-Register. The lawmaker suggested it would be wise to “educate ourselves on what it is first. We can still have conversations, but not for bill purposes,” he said.

HB 2864 would have allowed up to 5,000 Illinois vehicles to participate in a trial program in which drivers paid a VMT tax in place of motor fuel taxes. The state gas tax is currently 19 cents per gallon, but once fees and general sales tax are factored in, motorists pay on average 37.3 cents per gallon in state taxes at the pump.

In January 2018, during an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board, then-gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker said he’d be open to a VMT tax. “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. Pritzker has since denied having a specific plan to enact the tax.

In November, voters in DuPage County showed just how unpopular the tax was when they overwhelmingly rejected a VMT advisory referendum.

Evans was right to listen to Illinois taxpayers, and set an example for other lawmakers in Springfield. The VMT tax should stay in the junkyard.

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