MAHOMET — Illinois Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, has good news from the state Capitol, and he wants to be clear on what he says is key:
“It’s important that people know that their money’s coming back to them,” Rose said in a Feb. 11 interview with The Mahomet Citizen.
In Mahomet, it’s coming back in a big way. Motor fuel tax (MFT) funds in the state capital budget bill will power the Fiscal Year 2020-2025 Rebuild Illinois Highway Improvement Program. In Champaign County, one of the projects outlined in that program is a $2.93 million outlay for improvements from Eastwood Drive in Mahomet south to US 150/Oak Street, west to Division Street, and south on Illinois 47 to Illinois 10.
The total miles for standard overlay and Americans with Disabilities improvements on the roadways are 6.10, according to details in paperwork provided by Rose.
He wants Mahomet residents to be aware of what the capital bill is doing for this area, and the difference between sales tax on gasoline versus MFT funds to keep infrastructure in shape.
“One of the things that people need to know: The capital bill eliminated the sales tax on gasoline. And it’s a policy choice,” Rose said. “Sales tax, when it’s collected, goes in the state general fund. You then have to send me, and everybody else, to Springfield to go fight to get your money back. And it doesn’t necessarily come back in the form of roads. Sales tax on gasoline can come back in the form of K-12 (funding), or ag, or environment, but it doesn’t necessarily come back for roads.”
The gasoline sales tax also is more expensive for consumers, he noted.
“Sales tax is just a percentage basis on an underlying commodity, which also means that as the price of gas goes up, the state gouges you because we collect more,” Rose explained. “The higher the price of gas is, the more we collect in sales tax. So sales tax is very, very unfair to consumers and, just as a philosophical piece, it doesn’t go back to the roads. It can, but it just goes in a general bucket and then goes to whatever the General Assembly wants it to go to, which means downstate Illinois has to go fight Chicago to get its money back.
“The Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) is fixed per gallon, so it doesn’t gouge you as the price of the commodity goes up, and off the top you’re guaranteed to get a huge chunk back automatically to your local county, your local village and your local townships.
“Automatically by formula, money comes right back. You don’t have to send me or Dan Caulkins or whoever to go to Springfield to fight Mike Madigan; it automatically comes back,” Rose added.
He offered up a chart of additional MFT renewal fund revenues to Champaign County and its municipalities. In Mahomet, the renewal fund average is $12,054, and the 12-month estimate is $144,653.
“All we’ve done here is taken the real numbers that came back to these local communities and basically adjusted for 12 months. So this is an estimate,” Rose said.
“This is the new capital bill. This is money that you don’t have to go fight Mike Madigan to get back. More importantly, these are decisions to be made by your local leaders, and this is … not Mike Madigan telling you how to spend the money,” he said. “So just to me, on a policy choice basis, eliminating the sales tax for the motor fuel is the way to go. Because we’re going to get more money onto actual streets.”
Rose said taxpayers should appreciate the MFT route of funding for other reasons, too.
“The second thing is, the state constitution now protects every penny of motor fuel tax to go back into transportation. It does not protect sales tax. So again, citizens need to know this is their money coming back to them,” he said. “Now, in an interesting space in time, for Illinois, this is the one place where downstate Illinois really wins. And the reason is, when you’re doing the per-gallon tax, most of the gallons driven are in the suburbs every day. We’ve got the roads, but they’ve got the people. So the money being collected is being collected up there, but then it’s distributed about people and miles. So we get a huge chunk of this back, way more than what we’re going to send. That’s your local component.
“On top of that, you’ve got the state routes. So again, the constitution says that every penny of motor fuel tax has to go back into the roads. So these are the guaranteed dollars coming back to your locals, but then you’ve got the state route,” Rose said. “This is brand new in the capital bill. All these wants are things that we were able to get into this bill to come back to, again, bring your money back to you. It’s in the five-year (plan).”
New projects in the area in addition to the 6.10 mile stretch on Illinois 47 between Eastwood Drive and Illinois 10, include:
— Bridge replacement under US 150 northwest of Champaign at a cost of $6.683 million.
— Utility adjustment, and also consultant plans, at the Interstate 74 interchange with Interstate 57, $300,000 and $400,000, respectively.
— Land acquisition, and also utility adjustment, on I-57 under Mattis Avenue and under US 150, plus under I-74 under Mattis, $457,000 and $1.185 million, respectively.
— Bridge deck repairs under Illinois 47 northeast of Seymour, $500,000.
— Resurfacing on I-74 from 1.3 miles west of the Champaign County line to 0.2 of a mile west of Illinois 47 at the interchange in Mahomet, for a total of 5.24 miles, just over $4 million.
— Designed overlay and ADA improvements on US 150 for 5.57 miles from Mansfield to Mahomet, $4 million.
— Bridge deck repairs on US 150 over a stream two miles west of Mahomet, $100,000.
“Mahomet’s going to get about 150 grand in additional support for local roads,” Rose noted.
He said no one likes to pay more in taxes, as the state’s MFT tax on gasoline went up recently, but the taxpayers’ money is working for all citizens.
“I get it. I don’t want to pay the motor fuel tax any more than anybody else does. But every stinkin’ penny is coming back to this district, and then some,” Rose said.