The Illinois Economic Policy Institute urges the public to vote Yes on the Safe Roads Amendment to the state’s Constitution.
The Safe Roads Amendment would constitutionally protect– or “lockbox”– all revenue contributed by drivers through motor fuel taxes, tollways, licenses, and vehicle registration fees and require that the money is used solely for transportation purposes.
In a new Policy Brief [PDF], the Illinois Economic Policy Institute explains why the proposed amendment promotes taxpayer fairness, government accountability, and economic growth.
This amendment to constitutionally protect transportation funds is a common-sense measure. Those who use the transportation network should get the infrastructure quality that they pay for. Under the amendment, the revenue would be required to be spent on highways, roads, bridges, mass transit systems, commuter rail, airports, and other forms of transportation. A recent ballot initiative in neighboring Wisconsin demonstrates that voters want their user fees to go to their intended purposes.
The Illinois amendment has strong bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats. The Illinois House voted 98-4 in favor and the Illinois Senate voted 55-0 in favor of the constitutional amendment. Local governments, private businesses, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, transportation associations, and regional planning advocates have all endorsed passage of the constitutional amendment.
Experience has shown that voters should not trust Illinois politicians to use transportation revenues on transportation expenditures. Despite the fact that motor fuel taxes, licenses, and vehicle registration fees are all intended for transportation funding, lawmakers have diverted about $6.8 billion from transportation funds since 2002. An amendment to the constitution would prohibit lawmakers from creating new potholes and unsafe infrastructure over the long run to close other, short-term budget holes.
The total cost of these diversions has been a $3.2 billion loss in economic output. Over the past decade and a half, diversions out of the Road Fund, the State Construction Account, and other transportation funds have resulted in 4,747 fewer jobs in Illinois and a significant economic loss of $3.2 billion. A constitutional lockbox on transportation funds would protect these jobs, boost the economy, and improve economic efficiency in Illinois.
Illinois politicians have wasted tax dollars on bureaucracy and mismanagement for too long. By requiring all money from transportation-related taxes to be spent on transportation, the Safe Roads Amendment would increase funding for roads and bridges in Illinois. The lockbox amendment, if passed, would also increase funding for safety inspections of roads, bridges, and commuter rail lines.
You deserve better infrastructure, accountable government, and a strong economy! Vote Yes on the constitutional amendment this November.