The Quincy Herald-Whig
By now, the problems are well-documented: More Illinois roads and bridges are falling into disrepair, and the state's financial straits have left less money on the table to address the growing list of infrastructure deficiencies.
Only two states have more than Illinois' 26,775 bridges, of which 8.6 percent — 2,303 — are structurally deficient. With millions of vehicles crossing these spans each day, it no longer is a matter of whether tragedy will strike. Without a solution, it's inevitable, and in addition to the billions of dollars to repair and rebuild, it will cost human lives.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce is backing a bill introduced by state Rep. Andre M. Thapedi, D-Chicago, to raise $2 billion in annual revenue for transportation funding.
HB 3823 would eliminate the state's sales tax on gasoline, a tax that is charged on top of the state's gas tax, and raise the gas tax by 15 cents. Eliminating the tax on a tax stands to save drivers money as the price of gasoline — and the total paid to fill a tank — increases. The bill also would get rid of the Commercial Distribution Fee, a key move to keep the trucking industry from being hurt by the increase in the gas tax.
In addition, the measure would direct the secretary of state to develop tiered registration fees for cars based on the model year of the vehicle. This would allow people who drive older vehicles, who may drive less or have lower incomes, to pay less to register their automobiles. It also puts Illinois in line with states such as Iowa, Missouri and Michigan, which already have tiered registration.
This revenue is critical for state infrastructure. The Illinois Department of Transportation would see an increase of $600 million in funding, and $240 million would be allocated to local governments, a 40 percent increase. Transit programs would receive $670 million.
Should the bill make it out of committee, it is our hope that lawmakers will see its benefits, recognize the efforts made to accommodate businesses and ultimately support passage.
The lives of drivers and passengers on our highways and bridges depend on it.
The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan
Illinois is the first Midwestern state to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products. The law covers cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, chewing tobacco and other goods containing nicotine.
The arguments against? We've heard them before ... both of them.
Young men and women only have to be 18 to vote. You only have to be 18 to enlist in the armed forces. Opponents of the bill argue that if a person is mature enough to vote, or can put their life on the line for their county, they should be able to light up.
The second argument — "This law won't stop people who really want to smoke from getting cigarettes."
That's absolutely correct. No law has ever eliminated crime.
The law is an attempt to keep cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers and young adults for as long as possible. Most smokers pick up the habit well before the age of 18. And, many smokers proclaim they can quit anytime they want.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States. That number includes 41,000 people who die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
This law will not eradicate underage smoking. But, if it slows the rate of smoking in the state, it's well worth the effort.
(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald
If a school district — or any local government, for that matter — overtly promoted a bond issue that required voter approval, it would be drawn and quartered.
So look at the messaging you and we are financing through Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office. As one example: a "Fair Tax Calculator" on the Illinois government website that begins with the message, "Governor Pritzker is making good on his promise to protect working families and make our system more fair. With a fair tax, 97 percent of taxpayers will see some tax relief."
Sounds more than a little promotional, wouldn't you agree?
There's only one reason for Pritzker to brand his proposal as a "fair tax:" to subliminally promote voter support. Who, after all, would want to consider themselves unfair?
Our point isn't to take a position on the proposal. There's much thoughtful and deliberate research to do before getting to that point.
But if the government is asking us, as voters, to consider this proposal, shouldn't the government be obligated to describing it in objective terms? Shouldn't the government call it what it is: a graduated income tax, a phrase with no loaded connotation, good or bad?