Both Texas and Illinois have crumbling roads and bridges that require revenues to repair their current transit systems.
Which state does it better? It is sometimes claimed that Texas has better infrastructure than Illinois, but a new ILEPI Economic Commentary finds that Texas and Illinois are essentially equally competitive.
The report finds that there are similarities and differences between Illinois and Texas. On the one hand, they both have a large workforce that needs an efficient transportation network to get to work, with about three-in-five residents employed in both states. In addition, nearly one-third of the public road miles in each state are in urban areas. On the other hand, however, more Illinoisans use public transit (8.9 percent compared to 1.6 percent) and the average Illinois vehicle is more fuel efficient (17.21 miles per gallon compared to 14.08 miles per gallon).
Texas invests slightly more in transportation per capita than Illinois.
- Texas has 1.95 times as many people over 16 years of age as Illinois and 1.97 times as many workers.
- By contrast, the people of Texas drive 2.27 times as many miles and consume 2.78 times as much fuel.
This disproportionate usage and fuel consumption lead to relatively higher motor fuel tax revenues in Texas than in Illinois – allowing the state to fund more investments.
However, Texas also receives a considerable amount more in revenue from federal government subsidies than Illinois.
- The Federal Government bankrolls 39.4 percent of Texas’ General Fund revenues compared to just 22.5 percent of Illinois’ General Fund.
- Texas has about twice as many people and workers as Illinois but has no income tax in part because of the difference in federal government transfer payments.
- The difference in federal receipts is equivalent to Illinois’ individual income taxes multiplied by two, meaning that Texas essentially gets free funding equivalent to a 3.75 percent personal income tax.
As a result, Texas does better in some areas of transportation infrastructure and Illinois does better in others.
Texas has rural roads that are in better condition, lower back-end personal costs to motorists from driving on poor roads, and lower commute times to work.
Illinois has urban roads that are in better condition, fewer bridges in “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete” condition, and a lower fatal injury crash rate.
Unlike Illinois, the Texas Legislature has recently addressed their deficiencies by proposing a new plan to increase transportation infrastructure investment by capturing a portion of general sales tax revenues from vehicle sales. Illinois should consider doing the same. Due to crumbling infrastructure and future population growth, both Texas and Illinois need to raise revenues or reallocate funds to boost transportation investment.
Unfortunately, Illinois cannot rely on federal government assistance like Texas can. Right now, Illinois’ transportation network is a $43 billion unfunded liability. Illinois must raise its own revenue through taxes or fees to fix existing transportation structures and build a competitive, multi-modal network.
Infrastructure investment is an important public safety concern and an economic development imperative for Illinois.
The full report can be viewed here: http://illinoisepi.org/countrysidenonprofit/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/ILEPI-Road-Infrastructure-Illinois-vs-Texas.pdf.