Editorial: Gas tax hike will help state's future

Editorial: Gas tax hike will help state's future

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Dialogue

Perhaps the most universal reaction to Illinois' upcoming gasoline tax increase is no one likes it.

That's bad.

Perhaps the most satisfying reaction to the tax is that no one likes it.

That indicates it's probably a fair tax. Maybe not everyone will be hit equally, but everyone who uses roads will be hit in some way.

On July 1, Illinois' gasoline tax doubles from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon and the diesel tax jumps from 21.5 cents to 45.5 cents per gallon. This is the first time the state gas tax has been raised in Illinois since 1990.

No one likes a tax increase. In addition, as we've grown more cynical about the value and honesty of our state government, our politicians invariably prove they can be dishonest in ways most of us could never imagine.

Even among those strongly objecting to Springfield again putting its hands in our pockets, there has to be a percentage who understand exactly what that tax can be used to change.

How many times do you have to read stories that say things like “officials worried about condition of bridges” before you understand and agree that something has to be done, and if it's not a tax on those who use the roads and bridges, someone needs to come up with a better idea.

Be assured similar tax increases are being discussed, sometimes intensely and quite seriously, in state chambers around the country.

How often do we as a group of citizens complain about nothing being accomplished at upper governmental levels? Here, finally, is an example of a problem being identified and a solution presented.

We can't spend our time yelling “do something about these issues” and then when a solution is found, yell “wait, not that.” Likewise, we can't avoid doing something because of previous discretions from previous promises. Yes, we all remember the promise of the lottery helping schools and a previous gas tax increase being raided for other uses.

Keep in mind as well that we are still yelling “do something about these issues” when we think about the state's ongoing and ever-growing pension crisis.

One crisis at a time. As an editorial board, as a society, as a group of voters, we owe it to ourselves and each other to hold responsible those politicians who have broken their promises. To shrug and accept regular everyday corruption as “the way it works in Illinois” is as irresponsible as those who break promises.

Our apathy as voters and citizens has helped put us where we are. If we're going to suck up and pay our increases taxes on fuel, we have to remain interested enough to follow up and be certain the money is going where it needs to go and the work that needs to be done is being done.

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