Illinois Gov. George Ryan's proposal for an ambitious $12 billion public works program would have relied heavily on money raised by doubling license plate fees for passenger cars. But opposition to the fee hike has lawmakers looking at other ways to fund the program, including raising truck license fees even further than the 15% proposed by Ryan.
Ryan's five-year "Illinois FIRST" program would improve roads, mass transit, schools and sewer systems. Federal and local government would provide $5.7 billion. The state would have to come up with the rest: $621 million in annual revenues.
Late last week, the Associated Press pronounced Ryan's plan to double license plate fees all but dead. Legislators and constituents have balked at doubling the current $48 fee for license plates, but the plan depends heavily on the increase. Other revenue boosters in the plan include increases in liquor taxes and a 15% increase in truck registration fees.
The top Senate Democrat, Emil Jones of Chicago, proposed raising the truck fees 60%. House Minority Leader Lee Daniels flatly rejected that, saying even a 40% increase was uncomfortably high.
Negotiators long ago ruled out a fuel tax increase to pay for the package.
Monday, after meeting for about two hours in Ryan's office, the governor and leaders emerged to announce incremental progress in settling how to pay for the program, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. But they offered few details to back up their claim.
The Illinois Transportation Assn. and the Illinois-based Mid-West Truckers Assn. have both been in support of the 15% increase, even though trucks already account for 50% of the road fund.