CHICAGO - An increase in Illinois' motor fuel tax and vehicle registration fees could help raise an additional $1.8 billion of annual revenue for transportation under a proposal announced by an Illinois coalition.

The additional revenue could fuel more pay-as-you-go financing for projects and leverage additional borrowing, the Transportation for Illinois coalition said. The group wants 80% going to roads, bridges, and airports, with 20% going to transit. The road money would be split between the state and local roads in a 60/40 formula.

"This proposal would mean Illinoisans would see immediate improvement in the quality of roads, bridges, and transit and the State would be positioned to maintain the system going forward," the group said in its proposal.

The plan relies on $304 million from a four-cents-a-gallon motor fuel tax on gasoline and a 7 cent hike on diesel fuel. Another $225 million would come from increases in motor vehicle registrations and $208 million by charging sales taxes on automobile related services.

The plan also relies on $800 million from a diversion of existing sales tax revenue generated by motor fuel sales from general use to transportation, ending $180 million of ethanol tax credits, and redirecting other transportation related user fees to the plan.

Without the investment, the road system considered in acceptable shape would decline to 65% from 85% in the coming years and a gas tax alone would require a 30 cent per gallon hike to fund a similar plan.

"Without some new initiative by legislators in Springfield and by members of the U.S. Congress within the next few months, there will be no continuing appropriations of any additional magnitude to fund public works both in the country and in the state of Illinois," said coalition chairman Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

Illinois $31 billion capital program is winding down and Gov. Pat Quinn wants lawmakers to consider crafting a new one but a specific revenue source has not been identified.

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