Revenue From Gas Tax For Road Repairs Declining

Nov 28, 2014

You might notice roads and bridges in need of repair as you drive around this holiday weekend. But revenue from a key funding source, the gas tax, has been declining.  It's charged per gallon of gas purchased. U of I professor Don Fullerton says it was created on a simple concept:

Credit WNIJ

"The more you drive, the more gas you use.  The more you ought to have to pay for the road. It's sort of a benefit principle of taxation."

Improved mileage in vehicles means less gas is being used. Fullerton says change is needed to keep up with demand:

"It's just not enough for people to say government needs to be more efficient and do more things with less money. I mean, it just doesn't work that way. That's wishful thinking."

Fullerton says options could include using technology to tax the number of miles an individual drives, adding more toll roads or raising the gas tax.  He admits all these options would be politically difficult.  

A recent engineering estimate found more than 70 percent of Illinois' major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.  Nearly 10 percent of bridges are considered structurally deficient.