Lipinski Reacts to Chicago Tribune Editorial on Safe Roads Amendment

The Chicago Tribune’s recent editorial criticizing the Safe Roads Constitutional Amendment claimed that those promoting this amendment are not being honest with the people of Illinois.  But being honest with Illinois’ taxpayers is what this amendment is all about.  When I fill up at the gas pump in Illinois I know that I pay a 19 cent per gallon user fee that goes into the state’s Road Fund.  This is supposed to be a trust fund dedicated to building and fixing Illinois’ roads and transit systems.  Most people agree with anti-tax hero Ronald Reagan who embraced the user fee principle thatthose who benefit from a use should share in its cost.  But without this amendment, Illinois’ Road Fund is a slush fund, not a trust fund.  Between 2003 and 2015 nearly one-quarter of the money in the fund was spent on something other than transportation.  This is not being honest with Illinois taxpayers.

Illinois is a major transportation hub for the nation, and our economy, safety, and overall quality of life is dependent on reliable transportation infrastructure.  In Chicagoland alone, congestion costs drivers over $7 billion annually while they waste an additional 300 million hours behind the wheel.  As the senior Illinois member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Congress, I worked hard to get a 10% increase in federal funding for Illinois roads in the recently passed FAST Act.  But in order to access this funding, a local match is required; and even with the increase in federal funding there is still much more work that needs to be done on Illinois’ transportation infrastructure. 

Without the Safe Roads amendment, the people of Illinois face more congestion on our roads, fewer jobs with a slower growing economy, and a loss of trust in the trust fund.  That’s not good for anyone in the state.