Thursday, April 14, 2016

John Cullerton Has A Profoundly Stupid Idea

Illinois State Senate president, John Cullerton, has a very bad idea.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s Senate Bill 3267 would require all drivers – not just those with electric cars – to pay a per-mile road-user fee starting July 2017. Drivers would still be required to pay gas taxes at the pump, but would receive a tax credit from the state to cover the number of miles they drive per month, according to the legislation.
He has this idea that the reason the Illinois highway fund is empty isn't dreadful mismanagement by the state, be it pouring money into highways that can never be wide enough or trying to maintain more roads with the less money than they did thirty years.
If Cullerton’s plan becomes law, drivers would have to pick one of three tracking options: two plans that utilize tracking devices, or a third option through which drivers pay a flat $450 per year.
Now Cullerton thinks a per mile tax is the right answer (it isn't) and Senator Cullerton says,

“The Prius owners are the reason we need the bill.” He explained, “If all the cars were electric, there would be no money for the roads.”

Yeah, you read that right. It's the fault of a tiny minority of drivers paying less gas tax.  And to be clear here, we are literally talking about maybe three percent of the vehicles registered in Illinois. So Cullerton's demonizing the Prius as link bait, as a visible target, not as a genuine need that is going unfilled. Instead of simply raising the gas tax, the simplest, easiest method raising more money Cullerton has the Byzantine idea of a mileage tax. Yes, Cullerton thinks the best idea is to track the mileage of every Illinois driver and tax them per mile. Or just charge them a flat fee. Or, something. but mostly, get those damn fuel efficient drivers to pay more.

Of course, Cullerton's "Prius Tax" doesn't take into account truck drivers passing through the state (like a gas tax could). Cullerton's ridiculous plan doesn't factor the administrative costs to manage such a program. No. Cullerton's half baked bill doesn't take into account the privacy of the citizens of Illinois who may not like "trackers" installed in the cars but to hell with those people, WE NEED MORE MONEY!
The administration of such a large-scale tracking and monitoring system seems a behemoth task – with every possibility of going awry, considering the layers of bureaucracy that would be needed to administer such a program. Just consider: 10.4 million cars are registered in the state of Illinois, according to the secretary of state. 
The bill also would create the Illinois Road Improvement and Driver Enhancement Commission, a new administrative arm complete with an appointed chairman – with an annual salary of $18,000 – and four other members – each receiving $15,000 salaries per year.
Yeah, that.

If you want read the whole story, here, do so. If you live in Illinois now is the time to contact your local state legislative rep and tell them there are smarter ways to raise money then doing something this aggressively stupid, especially for all the wrong reasons.

Prius Tax indeed.